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Suggested Citation:"Specific Technical Product Information." National Research Council. 1991. Improving Information for Social Policy Decisions -- The Uses of Microsimulation Modeling: Volume II, Technical Papers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1853.
Page 187

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FUTURE COMPUTING ENVIRONMENTS FOR MICROSIMULATION MODELING 187 tomorrow's desktop machines, so that investments in supercomputing pay off later in terms of desktop productivity.22 • Alan Kay has stated that the issue for 1995 is not whether there will be 100 MIPS [millions of instructions per second] in desktop systems—there clearly will be—but rather what will be done with that amount of computational power.23 • It was reported in Canadian Datasystems24 that “within two years, desktop computing power will exceed 50 MIPS per user [and that] already desktop MIPS that cost $2,000 apiece are competing effectively with airconditioned MIPS at $130,000 each in large systems…. By 1990–91, the cost of MIPS will drop to $500 apiece.” • In Communications of the ACM25 it was said that “by the year 2000, a single computer chip could potentially solve problems that a supercomputer the size of a refrigerator handles today. Intel Vice President David House predicts his firm will lead the way by introducing a series of three new microprocessing chips over the next 10 years, each one more than quadrupling the speed and power of its predecessor. The i586 chip is slated for 1993, to be followed by the i686 chip in 1996 and the i786 chip by the turn of the century.” • Bell26 (1989) has said that “by 1990 workstations with four to ten 20-MIPS processors attached to a shared bus in a multi configuration that sells for under $50,000 may exist.” Specific Te chnical Product Information Specific product announcements and introductions are useful barometers of the direction and pace of technical progress. Care must be taken, however, to distinguish between announcements and actual introductions27 and between 22 New York Times, September 8, 1989, p. D1. 23 Keynote address, MACWorld Exposition, Boston, Mass., August 13, 1989. 24 “Businessland founder sees 50 MIPS on desktop soon,” Canadian Datasystems, April 1989, p. 74. 25 “News Track,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 32, No. 9, September 1989, p. 1042. 26 G.Bell is the chief designer of the VAX computer series. Formerly he was director of the Office of Advanced Computation at the National Science Foundation, and is now vice-president of research and development at Ardent Computer Company. His article contains a far-ranging discussion of current research and development efforts at improving computer performance. 27 The computer industry has a history of premature product announcements, some the result of miscalculating the difficulty of bringing a product to market and some intended to forestall purchaser action. One of the most famous was IBM's announcement in 1968 of its System 360/91, which never lived up to its original specifications and was delivered only after lengthy delays. The system was dubbed a “fighting machine” by the U.S. Department of Justice, and its history was one of the major arguments contained in the department's 1969 antitrust suit against IBM.

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Improving Information for Social Policy Decisions -- The Uses of Microsimulation Modeling: Volume II, Technical Papers Get This Book
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This volume, second in the series, provides essential background material for policy analysts, researchers, statisticians, and others interested in the application of microsimulation techniques to develop estimates of the costs and population impacts of proposed changes in government policies ranging from welfare to retirement income to health care to taxes.

The material spans data inputs to models, design and computer implementation of models, validation of model outputs, and model documentation.

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