Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Have your say on today's Aardvark Daily column

Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Postby aardvark_admin » Mon Sep 27, 2021 5:26 am

This column is archived at: https://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2021/0927.shtml

If it works, don't fix it?

Car manufacturers seem to have taken the sensible approach of sticking with tried and proven "old" tech for the electronic subsystems used in their vehicles. Of course they didn't figure on the current chip shortage so they are now in a bit of a hole.

Where do they go now? Do they redesign everything to use more modern (and thus more readily available) technologies or do they wait out the shortage?

If they do re-design to use the new generations of silicon based on much smaller gate-sizes, do we (as consumers) skip the first generation of these vehicles for obvious reasons?

And will newer, smaller devices actually be better anyway... or could bit-flip leave you stranded on the side of the motorway one day?

Is it any wonder that the processors in most of the interplanetary missions are using CPUs that are, by today's standards, very old and slow?
aardvark_admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5181
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 2:10 pm

Re: Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Postby hagfish » Mon Sep 27, 2021 8:21 am

Back-end banking systems are very slow to evolve, too. The buck stops (quite literally) with those old COBOL systems. I suppose a few firebrands thought it would be a good idea to upgrade to Windows XP. I wonder if they still stand by that decision.

There are lots of systems that we rely on that have been ticking along for decades, centuries, and - in fundamental cases - hundreds of millions of years. In nature, run-away processes quickly exhaust their host or local resources, and get shown the evolutionary door. I wonder if supply chain issues will be an effective 'chemotherapy' for capitalism. Lots of crucial activities that were previously pared away as 'externalities' or 'costs' or 'waste' will have to be factored back in. Every big manufacturer will have its own machine shop again. We'll go back to carving our own phones from teak, and handing them down the generations. Extractive efficiency (*cough*profit-taking*cough*) might be possible during times of plenty, but regenerative resilience is in it for the long haul.
hagfish
 
Posts: 1011
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 10:28 am

Re: Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Postby Kiwiiano » Mon Sep 27, 2021 8:45 am

I wonder what happened to the ‘old tech’ macinery? Stashed in a cupboard/warehouse somewhere or did some know-all beancounter say “Get rid of that junk, it’s costing $$$ to store”. The ship was sunk for the want of a hapworth of tar!
~ Kiwiiano
“I'm not a total idiot. Parts of me are missing!”
Kiwiiano
 
Posts: 594
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 5:36 pm

Re: Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Postby granada29 » Mon Sep 27, 2021 9:00 am

This is probably all because "shiny and new" represents bigger profits to the manufacturers than "proven and reliable". I would also guess that far more chips are going into phones, TVs, computers etc than automobiles so the incentive to keep making "proven and reliable" is just not there.
granada29
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:38 am

Re: Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Postby Norm » Mon Sep 27, 2021 11:44 am

Thanks for the video. That was fascinating. Next time I'm late for work I'll tell the boss man I slept in because of a bit-flip in my alarm clock :D .
Norm
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 12, 2014 12:57 pm

Re: Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Postby Geoffm » Mon Sep 27, 2021 2:52 pm

One of the reasons plan engines rely on 70 year old technology is lawyers, especially American ones. If the plane falls out of the sky and it has the "new model" engine, it is an avenue for ambulance chasers to have a go at the manufacturer, because they made a change. If it is the same motor as has been used for 70 years, then it is "bad luck". This attitude features highly in aviation.
Geoffm
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 12:26 pm

Re: Sometimes old is still good (27 Sep, 2021)

Postby dingram17 » Mon Sep 27, 2021 4:59 pm

Geoffm wrote:One of the reasons plan engines rely on 70 year old technology is lawyers, especially American ones. If the plane falls out of the sky and it has the "new model" engine, it is an avenue for ambulance chasers to have a go at the manufacturer, because they made a change. If it is the same motor as has been used for 70 years, then it is "bad luck". This attitude features highly in aviation.


Certification is extremely expensive, with paperwork that would make a public servant quake in their books. Software certification (DO-178) or FPGA designs (DO-254) is so challenging that some people just go back to building things with logic gates & task-specific ICs (but not ASICs). Things were a bit too streamlined in the US, but following the 737-MAX crashes the spotlight is well and truly on the industry.
User avatar
dingram17
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon May 09, 2016 9:47 am


Return to Today's column

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 10 guests

cron