NASA's Mars Perseverance rover is powered by a processor from 1998


Posts: 5,786   +3,993
Another thing about this is that how much compute power do these things actually NEED? These things need to move slow for reliability reasons ANYWAY and transmitting the type of data these things are going to collect doesn't take that much power. It already sent 1080p video back so how much more power do we actually need? I'm sure the minds at NASA would be great at optimizing code instead of programs today that rely on raw horsepower. Why spend resources optimizing code when you can count on a 50-70% increase in hardware performance every year?

Optimizing code goes a LONG way but is expensive to do. In something like this where money is essentially no object the budget is there to optimize the code
Some of the optimized code depends on hardware advancements such as SIMD, and similar CPU instruction sets, which are built into modern processors. In cases where software would benefit from the hardware optimizations and developers do not use it - shame on them. The hardware enhancements are far faster than what software optimization would be able to accomplish on its own.


Posts: 158   +73
When Tesla was looking at the cost of radios they found the cost of a radiation-hardened one was about $50,000. But things have moved on since those standards were established, and they found that modern components sourced from Radio Shack performed about the same as older radiation hardened ones when subjected to radiation, and they were able to build an equivalent much cheaper.

J spot

Posts: 237   +158
This is not surprising. New Horizons flew by Pluto powered by a PlayStation one CPU. Though I think it was running slightly faster at around 37 Mhz. I don't feel like Googling.


Posts: 1,025   +407
You could control an Airbus A380 using a cheap micro-controller. CPUs calculate fast, physical things move slowly. Also, don't forget that 1998 is one year AFTER a computer already beat world's best chess player. Not using a PowerPC, but still.