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Software Hardware Technology

Software for Hardware Demonstrations? 45

raarky asks: "My company will be running a stand at a rather respectable geek conference and I would like to ask the developer and sysadmin crowd what sort of demonstration software would be cool to see running on some of the highend server, workstation and mobility (notebooks, handhelds etc) hardware we have available. Ideally it has to appeal to the intended audience and show off the capabilities of these systems (read: intensive). My first thoughts were something like a renderfarm or some great open source 'end to end solution' that crunches lots of data and has client software to display the results." What software would you use to show off hardware capabilities?
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Software for Hardware Demonstrations?

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  • Gentoo (Score:3, Funny)

    by contrasutra ( 640313 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @09:45PM (#9628188) Journal
    Show them how you can install a gentoo system in less than 12 hours! C'mon, we all know GCC output gives linux (gentoo) users a hard-on.

    (Im a linux user, humor...)
    • YHow the hell did you manage to install it that quickly?
    • Actually, for me it the "configure" output, especially the part at the end when you see that all the cool features have been enabled thanks to your simply adding a few tokens to the USE flag.
  • by FrenZon ( 65408 ) * on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @09:52PM (#9628226) Homepage
    I wouldn't go with a renderfarm - people are too used to seeing the 60fps stuff that comes out of hardware acceleration to be THAT impressed by software rendering, even if it looks great at 1 frame every 10 seconds.

    The same applies for most 'data crunching' applications - unless your audience is intimately familiar with how long ( protein folding | SETI searches | whatever you're doing ) takes, it's not going to be that impressive. Even if they do know how long something takes, a speed gain of two over whatever they use is just going to be lost in the hurly burly of the presentation atmosphere, unless you can compare them side-by-side.

    That said, it's going to depend on your audience - if they are ALL real 3DSMAX heads, then show one of the default benchmarks running, with nice big printed charts showing the gains over your competition. But if they're a mix of 3DSMAX users and Maya users (for example), then you're going to lose half of them.

    Hooray for unfinished comments!
    • "I wouldn't go with a renderfarm - people are too used to seeing the 60fps stuff that comes out of hardware acceleration to be THAT impressed by software rendering, even if it looks great at 1 frame every 10 seconds."

      Welllll it kind of depends on the target audience. If they're talking about Siggraph, which is coming next month, the people there would get it.

      Essentially, I agree, though. I saw an Itanium demo where was rendering a pretty detailed engine. Whoop-de-do, my workstation could top that. I
  • by phraktyl ( 92649 ) * <wyatt@dra g g o o .com> on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @09:53PM (#9628229) Homepage Journal
    Generally, what gets displayed should *look* cool first, and then if someone from afar comes up to get more info, go ahead and give them all of the geeky specs and such.

    When I was in the Air Force, we had an old IBM mainframe with a huge tape silo (like 8 or 10 feet in diameter, 8 feet tall, etc.), and for the main room that got toured by the top brass, we opted for a large window-panel instead of one to store tapes in the six sides. This, of course, took quite a bit of tape storage away. However, the benifit was that those on tour could see the robotic arm moving around at 60 miles an hour inside the silo. We had a program that did nothing but run the arm around, grab random tapes, and swap them in and out of the drives for a minute or two. Completely useless, but it never failed to impress the hell out of them.
    • Install Quake then hire someone to come along and say, "I know this - this is Unix!"
    • Ahh I love the completely useless but impress the hell out of X programs. Usually when I am trouble shooting a computer for a very intrested yet untechno savy person I pop up a few kool looking gui programs [Command.com tree running in a loop, a flash program that displays file depth and size on a graph] while in the corner I have a command prompt running where I do actual work. Lots of oohs and awws and if anyone asks I usually combine a few key words and get a quick nod... monolithic polymorphic virus int
      • heh, guess i'm not the only one with that excessive ls habit. i also do it ever exiting pine or pretty much anything else.

        though I think i have trained my subconscious to look at it since in directory i spend alot of time in (eg my home dir) i do tend to notice if things don't "look right" (wrong # of columns) indicating i probably dumped a temporary file there intending to do something with it and haven't done it yet or haven't deleted it.
    • I saw "Clear and Present Danger [imdb.com]" too.

      While it was probably attached to an IBM mainframe, it was a StorageTek tape silo.

  • by blackcoot ( 124938 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @09:58PM (#9628260)
    have one (or two) systems running a fairly substantial, dynamic website with substantial data munging going on (e.g.: an e-commerce app) and simulate a couple (hundred) thousand customers hitting it. you can get some really neat real-time stats displays going updating in real time (e.g. n-thousand transactions in the past second, n-thousand dollars in transactions over the last set of time frames, etc.)

    other, very sexy demos include: real-time anything, but particularly real-time multi-media. eyecandy is always a good thing. for example, real time recording, transforming, encoding, and writing of video (plus sound) data at high res and framerates, etc.

    just my 0.02 euro (which right now is worth more than your $0.02 ;-))
  • Something fake (Score:4, Insightful)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @10:00PM (#9628268)
    You don't want your pcs to break during a demo.

    Flashy and without substance is what a demo should be.
  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @10:07PM (#9628313) Homepage Journal
    ..and just claim that it's a realtime simulation of the universe.
  • by lambent ( 234167 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @10:13PM (#9628344)
    Not Nethack.
  • by psyconaut ( 228947 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2004 @10:17PM (#9628367)
    Demonstrate retro-compatibility! Yeah, baby!!!! ;-)

  • At my university a few months ago we had an opening for this new ATAC building. I was working at it (I work there and take Computer Science there) and afterwords I wandered around to look at what other people were doing (our display was exceptionally boring). The computer science people were showing off thier rack mounted supercomputer by rendering a fish.

    What was interesting is that the bits that were rendered were displayed in real time. And it wasn't all synchronys. So one block would complete while the

  • You say this is for a geek audience? Then how about building Mozilla, Linux, and/or X?

    I remember building Linux back on a 486/66 - set the options, start the compile, go to sleep, and HOPE it builds over night rather than erroring out.

    One of my co-workers tells me of building X on an HP workstation back in the day - it took 4 days to compile.

    Now we can build Linux in tens of seconds on the right hardware (and THAT is with the kernel being over twice as many lines of code as before!)
  • by Bishop ( 4500 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @12:09AM (#9629017)
    You do not need software to demo hardware. Chances are that the demo software that you use will apeal to the wrong audience. Worst, you will spend more time answering software questions then hardware questions. Make the hardware look cool. Show the guts. If your servers have redundant bits, demo that.

    The only software that you will need is operating systems. Sysadmins will want to know if the hardware runs their operating system of choice. If you only support Windows, only demo Windows. If your company is OS agnostic have several OSes installed, possibly in multiboot configurations.
    • "You do not need software to demo hardware. Make the hardware look cool. Show the guts."

      ooh, yes! lots of neon-lit cables, fans coated with UV-sensitive paint, and window-panels (laser-etched with silhouettes of dragons and babes).
      And liquid-nitrogen cooling!
      And lots of blinkenlights! w00t!!
      • bah. You only need neon lights if you are trying to attract the babes. As for the blinkenlights, those are for management. If there aren't any blinkenlights, how is management going to know if the hardware is working?

        Geeks are pureist. They like to see the elegant clean lines of the hardware itself.
  • fork();
  • by sumirati ( 639201 )
    Build a webserver farm connected via a load-balancer to the web with at least a 45 MBit/s line.

    On the handhelds (which of course should be having a HiRes display) let the user have a browser which could not access anything beside from your load-balance webserver farm.

    On the webserver farm host free (as in beer) pr0n.

    Display real time stats and let the user test your setup. They will be happy customer (the sales people being in the front).
  • by Prowl ( 554277 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @04:52AM (#9629920)
    Boing Ball [emugaming.com]
  • coLinux, Bochs, VMWare. Run WinXP, a few flavors of Linux all at the same time.

    Plus you should have SNES9x or something of the sort in the corner!
  • Some sort of fractal animation. Zoom in or something. Most of the calculations are light enough for todays computers to create at least two frames a second. I was working on one program that did the basins of attraction for polynomials and was able to crank out full screen or large bitmaps in just over a second on a P100 laptop (running Windows no less). Don't know of any specific software out there (there are many), but a custom one should be fairly simple for a skilled programmer to churn out in short
  • ... um, repeatedly. No fooling, "geek conference"? Put up a shell window and cycle through a longish make. If the h/w you're showing off is fast, anybody who's ever suffered through a kernel build on a 350MHz Deceleron will be impressed as those cc warnings flash by.
  • Comparisons work well. Find some nice flashy ray-tracing or other heavy-duty graphics program.

    Load it on YOUR machine, and on another "typical" machine. If yours looks smooth and the comparison is jerky, you win.

    On the other hand, if you can't do better than the comparison machine, then you probably won't get any sales -- and you probably shouldn't be there in the first place.
  • Like LC5 [atstake.com] - Cracking^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HVerifying Password Security at the speed of light...
  • Run 50 or more virtual machines in each machine. Run a etherape on one, run one of those hacker "demos" on another, run one with MS Office with clippy, run MAME32 with Pacman on another, all the various versions of Windows, DOS, various Linux distros, various *BSD, QNX and so on. Just click on each vmware tab one by one.

    Hope you have enough RAM, CPU and disk.

    Another alternative is Citrix. Let 100 different users use different applications all off one server. But the trouble with this is, the suits may thi
    • Oh yah, if you are doing the vmware thing, don't forget to run a few instances of cluster knoppix - e.g. have a 10 machine cluster in one machine.

      Or erm, run a "beowulf" cluster in one machine. :)
  • To calculate the value of pi out to N places, and just send the digits flying across the screen. It would impress me, but then again I buy CPU's based on the GFlops rating too.....
  • ...and you're *sure* it's good, then try 3dmark2003...

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers