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The Almighty Buck

Buying Computing by the Computon 189

theodp writes "Seeking to emulate the pricing models utilities use to charge customers for kilowatt-hours of electricity based on the ebb and flow of power demand, HP Researchers have come up with a new unit-of-computing metric, the Computon, which is not to be confused with the 'Power Unit' and 'Service Unit' pricing metrics from Sun and IBM. California, here we come!"
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Buying Computing by the Computon

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  • i get ten rods to a hogshead, and thats the way i likes it!
  • Get 'em! (Score:3, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:10PM (#6051501) Homepage Journal

    Get yer Computons here! Only 3 for a farthing! Get 'em while their hot!
    • Get yer Computons here! Only 3 for a farthing! Get 'em while their hot!

      What flavor is it?

      • What flavor is it?

        Oi gots bigendian and littleendian and surr, but my discerning customers are all goin' for these little trits, half again as tasty and better than those new quantum jobbies, I don't hold with no being...uncertain-like about me number-crunching...

  • Meaning Indicatators of Processor Speed? Sounds like a Marketspeak. Must we take serious everything that comes out in a press release?
    • I don't think so, but I'm not positive. While MIPS is a (one of many) metric of processor speed, I think the computon is more a measurement of the resources used by a corporation for pricing guidelines.
    • MIPS [catb.org] == "Meaningless Indication of Processor Speed."

      Unless, of course, you wish to believe the old folks who might otherwise tell you it stands for Millions of Instructions Per Second. Back in the good-old-days, before the current abundant crop of benchmarks, people tended to measure CPUs more simply. You used to hear arguments of "my RISC chip performs more cycles per second than your CISC chip" or "my CISC chip performs more work per cycle than your RISC chip." (Anyone else notice the passing of CIS

    • At the University Of Alberta (back in the 70's ~ 80's they charged based on things like VM/CPU integral ( 1Min CPU time * 4 Meg of Virtual memory) and page-months of disk storage.

      This sounds like a good bit more complicated, and could lead to rather wierd results like you end up paying more for CPU time because you had to wait longer to get the computation done (it was a high-load period).

      The cheapest CPU time on MTS were 'deferred priority' batch jobs. They generally only got ran on weekends and after

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can the computon handle?
  • by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:12PM (#6051510) Homepage
    I like to own them!!!

    so basicly what HP is saying is that depending on how hard I work the servers will effect some monthly payment I make to them.

    so, does this lower the cost of service contracts becasue companies that push their servers harder require more service than those who have low or moderate useage?
    • I like to own them!!!

      RTFA. This applies to customers who outsource their IT to HP. If you actually own the hardware then this article doesn't directly affect you.

      so, does this lower the cost of service contracts becasue companies that push their servers harder require more service than those who have low or moderate useage?

      In theory, yes. However, this wouldn't be the first time that a company used obsfucation as a sly means of increasing its revenues.
  • Confusion? (Score:3, Funny)

    by hackwrench ( 573697 ) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:12PM (#6051511) Homepage Journal
    Also not to be confused with a ton of computers.
  • Huh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rorgg ( 673851 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:12PM (#6051513)
    I thought that was a measurement of the weight I've put on since starting to work in IT.
  • i wonder (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iosmart ( 624285 )
    i wonder how many computons it'll take to actually determine the number of computons all of your different users have consumed. :-D it sounds like a complicated process and it sounds as if it is geared towards systems that are used by large numbers of people...
  • NIH (Not Invented Here) reported an outbreak of a new virus, now running rampant in the IT industry. Researchers are quoted as saying "We thought we stamped that out, but we are going to have to setup the quarantines again, since now HP has caught it".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:13PM (#6051528)
    Here is the official conversion:

    1.6 energon cubes = 1 computon

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:14PM (#6051537)

    Researchers at Hewlett-Packard Co. are developing a new pricing approach for the outsourced capacity-on-demand computing services the company offers. But several IT managers said they're worried that the plan is too complex.
    Under HP's scheme, prices would vary based on factors such as the overall demand placed on servers, storage devices and other IT resources, said Bernardo Huberman, an HP fellow and director of the systems research center at the company's HP Labs unit.

    He added that a new unit-of-computing metric, which is being called a "computon" inside HP, would be akin to the pricing models that utilities use to charge customers for kilowatt-hours of electricity based on the ebb and flow of power demand.

    Huberman acknowledged that the computon effort is complicated. For instance, HP will have to account for variables such as how well its data centers perform and the amount of computing resources that customers require, he said. HP also needs to figure out a way to build in pricing provisions to cover the possibility that companies will use more or less of a specific IT resource, like CPU cycles, than they have contracted for on a monthly basis.

    Analysts said new IT pricing approaches are needed to support the emerging utility-based computing capabilities being offered by HP and rivals such as IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. Those two companies said they also have pricing updates in the works.

    But the computon concept, which is due for initial testing within HP early next year, did not wow IT executives interviewed last week.

    "It sounds too complicated to me," said Malcolm Fields, CIO at HON Industries Inc., a maker of office furniture and fireplaces in Muscatine, Iowa.

    "The last thing that we need is another complicated licensing scheme," Fields said. "What we need is a quick and easy way to buy more computing power, and I need to be able to buy it in very small, inexpensive increments."

    "I'm not sure I would like it at all, and I don't think it would fly," said Tim Cronin, manager of IT at Nobel Biocare USA Inc., a Yorba Linda, Calif.-based maker of dental implants. "How in the world would you calculate all the variables?"

    HP probably will be able to "come up with some matrix that will look very impressive," Cronin added. But he also questioned whether IT managers would be able to measure their computon usage and whether the plan would provide cost benefits to users.

    Evolutionary Step

    Some analysts were more positive about HP's plan, describing it as an evolutionary step in the development of utility-based computing.

    "We will eventually get to a point where [IT vendors] charge for usage in real time," said Thornton May, a futurist in Biddeford, Maine, and a Computerworld columnist. "If you want electricity on a hot day, you pay more. If you want bandwidth on a busy pipe-traffic day, you pay more."

    Efforts by IT services vendors like HP, IBM and Sun to develop new methods of pricing for utility-based computing "are well placed," said Howard Rubin, executive vice president at Meta Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn.

    But Rubin said the task won't be an easy one. "When true physics aren't involved, it's hard to come up with something meaningful, auditable and defensible for pricing," he noted.

    In addition, Rubin said that he doesn't think rival vendors will work together to develop a standard capacity-on-demand pricing metric.

    A spokesman for IBM said it's now offering mainframe Linux hosting customers a "service unit" pricing approach. The pricing is based partly on the cost of the hardware being run by IBM, as well as its IT labor costs. It runs on a free operating system for homosexuals, by homosexuals, competing head to head (pun intended) with Apple's OSX. IBM also factors in the average amount of hourly mainframe CPU capacity used over a 24-hour period and then tracks monthly utilization rates to come up with the service unit cost, the spokesman said.

    In April, Sun introduced a pricing
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi@ y a h o o.com> on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:15PM (#6051541) Homepage Journal
    Its called the MEEDO.

    The MEEDO is how long it takes for me to do something.

    This post is .30 MEEDOs. You owe me 10,000 dollars.

    (I only need to sell one.)

  • Remember when HP actually did cool stuff? Stuff that actually took real R&D?

    Now they are trying to position themselves as a "services" company. That's just pathetic.

    • Now they are trying to position themselves as a "services" company. That's just pathetic

      pathetic? I would suggest this is the reality in the coming economy, think of the ROI when i don't have to have out of date hardware sitting onsite, I can just outsource computons.. an excellent business model. Kudos to HP. this may even help the environment by requiring less actual hardware overall for everyones computing needs.
  • by talmage ( 223926 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:15PM (#6051546) Homepage Journal
    "computron" has been used since at least the mid-1980s, when I first heard it used by an MIT graduate.

    From Jargon File (4.0.0/24 July 1996) [jargon]:

    computron /kom'pyoo-tron`/ /n./ 1. A notional unit of
    computing power combining instruction speed and storage capacity,
    dimensioned roughly in instructions-per-second times
    megabytes-of-main-store times megabytes-of-mass-storage. "That
    machine can't run GNU Emacs, it doesn't have enough computrons!"
    This usage is usually found in metaphors that treat computing power
    as a fungible commodity good, like a crop yield or diesel
    horsepower. See {bitty box}, {Get a real computer!},
    {toy}, {crank}. 2. A mythical subatomic particle that bears
    the unit quantity of computation or information, in much the same
    way that an electron bears one unit of electric charge (see also
    {bogon}). An elaborate pseudo-scientific theory of computrons
    has been developed based on the physical fact that the molecules in
    a solid object move more rapidly as it is heated. It is argued
    that an object melts because the molecules have lost their
    information about where they are supposed to be (that is, they have
    emitted computrons). This explains why computers get so hot and
    require air conditioning; they use up computrons. Conversely, it
    should be possible to cool down an object by placing it in the path
    of a computron beam. It is believed that this may also explain why
    machines that work at the factory fail in the computer room: the
    computrons there have been all used up by the other hardware.
    (This theory probably owes something to the "Warlock" stories
    by Larry Niven, the best known being "What Good is a Glass
    Dagger?", in which magic is fueled by an exhaustible natural
    resource called `mana'.)

    • by Vagary ( 21383 ) <jawarren AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:31PM (#6051672) Journal

      IANAP, but I wouldn't call the proposed correspondence between negentropy and information (as defined by Shannon) "pseudo-science". It's precisely this sort of cross-disciplinary metaphor which is so highly valued within Mathematics.

      Liquid things do have higher levels of entropy than solid things. And computers do get hot because they're determining where electrons are and then forgetting that information (to use Norrestranders' (in The User Illusion) way of putting things).* If you could constrain the molecules in an object, it would be colder. The factory comment, though, is part of a strawman argument.

      * I seem to recall reading something on /. years ago about computing that recycles the contents of registers to lower waste heat. Am I on drugs?

      • I seem to recall reading something on /. years ago about computing that recycles the contents of registers to lower waste heat.

        Almost. Reversible computing builds all of its primitives to prevent losing information -- evidently, this directly causes it to produce less heat. See Baker's papers [nec.com] for more information.

        Am I on drugs?

        Um... Hard to say. Perhaps this would make a good Ask Slashdot question? :-)

        -Billy
        • Yes, that's exactly what I was talking about! So linear computation could be described as computron-preserving:

          Save Computrons! Reduce cycles, Reuse your cache, and Recycle bits!

      • Yes sir, you are on drugs. Can I have some?
      • I don't know whether you are on drugs or not, but you are on the right lines. There *is* a connection between information and energy and this topic is introduced quite nicely in "Feynman on Computing", a very important book that strangely very few people have heard of. The connection is a lot weirder than you might think.

        If anybody thinks Feynman was a pseudo scientist, they are an idiot.
    • Not to be confused with Computron [unicron.us], the giant robot formed when the Technobots merged together. The Technobots, if you recall, were created by Grimlock in Season Four when he was suddenly made into a super-genius for an episode.

      (Ah, the joys of reliving precious childhood obsessions through Kazaa downloads.)
  • In essence, this is HP trying to sell their excess cycles to companies (something they've been doing for a while). This is not them trying to sell dumb terminals to consumers, who will then buy 'computons' from HP as part of their utility bill.

    What'll be interesting is when consumer-conglomerates pop up (akin to SETI@home or Folding@home or spamkillers@home) to sell excess processing cycles from home computers... There's many more of us around than there are resources at HP...

    -T

    • No, in essence HP is trying to find some way to stay afloat, now that Carly has run the company prtty much into the ground. This is just a follow-up initiative from the same people who brought us the "starter ink cartridge" (a real non-starter for most users, when a regular cartridge costs about as much as the printer).
    • Of course, HP could make computon-leasing part of their hardware burn-in process. They'd just have to run the same jobs on multiple computers to make sure that a hardware failure didn't invalidate a job.
    • And then, the stealth spyware networks [keir.net] collecting profits from using the cycles of millions of unsuspecting users.
    • Unfortunately, the spare cycles on home computers are generally worth less than the overhead cost to use them. (Notice that all the successful projects in this area are non-profit.)
    • What'll be interesting is when consumer-conglomerates pop up (akin to SETI@home or Folding@home or spamkillers@home) to sell excess processing cycles from home computers... There's many more of us around than there are resources at HP...
      Here [lightandmatter.com] is my proposal for doing that, and dealing with the spam problem at the same time.
  • Since large amounts of traffic on the Internet are porn, unit-of-computing metric should be base on amount of porn clips encoded and decoded for given time.
    • Since large amounts of traffic on the Internet are porn, unit-of-computing metric should be base on amount of porn clips encoded and decoded for given time.

      How about a poon-tron?

  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:20PM (#6051576) Journal
    The rolling california blackouts are the perfect case for the advocacy of Utility Regulation (like the new 'computer utilities envisioned by HP/IBM/Sun etc).

    The power companies, colluding with the marketers themeselves, PURPOSEFULLY manipulated the energy market in california to raise prices [chron.com]. the rolling blackouts were the 'shot across the bow' of regulation-advocates; "we'll shut your damn power off it you dont pay" extortion.

    Why is this on-topic? because someday, in the future, computing-as-utility will become as necessary as electricity is today... want to get a job? have to have computing-ability. Want to pay your bills? have to have computing-ability. want to get a loan? have to have computing-ability. want to vote? have to have computing-ability.. without accepting that WHEN THIS HAPPENS, that regulation of the industry in the public interest becomes necessary... unless you want the future-monied-kings to shut down your house/town/state.

    • IANAE, but if the market cost of entrance is low enough, as it presumably would be with computation, then monopolies cannot form. If I need more computation than I had, I can go out and buy a desktop (and make a Beowulf cluster, of course). If the price of computation was high enough, I can invest in a desktop simply for the purpose of selling its computation. Contrast this with electricity and generators.
    • The power companies, colluding with the marketers themeselves, PURPOSEFULLY manipulated the energy market in california to raise prices [chron.com]. the rolling blackouts were the 'shot across the bow' of regulation-advocates; "we'll shut your damn power off it you dont pay" extortion.

      Yeah, there's a shock - private companies with the reins pulled off go crazy. California was stupid in HOW it deregulated. If they'd simply allowed 5% cost increases for the next 10 years, then removed all regulation, thi
    • by Dictator For Life ( 8829 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:53PM (#6051844) Homepage
      The rolling california blackouts are the perfect case for the advocacy of Utility Regulation

      First off, let me say that I agree in one respect: if one or more companies are given a monopoly for providing electricity, then they must be regulated.

      Having said that, what we saw in California's gray-outs was not a consequence of deregulation. It was a consequence of a preposterous regulatory policy. IIRC, the California utilities were explicitly forbidden from raising the rates that they charged to customers in order to cover the rising prices that they were facing.

      This is nothing but price controls, and price ceilings will virtually always guarantee the creation of shortages.

      By subjecting the utilities to the open market for the purchase of electricity, while at the same time prohibiting them from engaging in the rational pricing activities required by an open market, the state of California created the perfect conditions for that nightmare to occur.

      You can't blame so-called "deregulation" for it. That's as silly as believing that NAFTA creates "free trade". Genuine free trade doesn't need an encyclopedic and baffling legal code to enforce; it simply requires the elimination of tariffs and other burdens upon commerce. By the same token, it's ridiculous to call something "deregulated" if the players can't set their own prices.

      • This is nothing but price controls, and price ceilings will virtually always guarantee the creation of shortages.

        There were no shortages. A friend of mine works for Sunsweet and part of his job is monitoring a fricken website which shows the total load and capacity. We never got within 10% of capacity, and they were doing rolling blackouts.

        The rolling blackouts were simply a warning that they're like Lily Tomlin doing the phone company skit on SNL; We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone c

        • One of us is misunderstanding the other, and I don't know which one of us it is.

          First of all, a price-control-generated shortage is not characterized by high capacity. It's characterized by having nothing available to sell: merchants become either unwilling (because they lose too much) and/or unable (because they don't have the money to pay for inventory) to stock their shelves. There could be a zillion potential customers at the artificially low price, but there is nothing for them to buy.

          Translating that

      • There seems little hope for democracy to work in California. The same administration that created the energy shortage (and then blamed the energy companies for it), also purchesed about 10 times the number of Oracle licenses that they needed costing Californians millions I'm sure, even after the word got out.

        After those two screw-ups, he got re-elected and now will be laying off a large percentage of the states teachers. Will he succeed in blaming it on those evil Republicans? Probably.
    • California never deregulated and the computers I own and run free software on want nothing to do with you or your regulations. There are two legitimate reasons for power monopolies, public easments and grid stability. No similar public interest exists for computing. A half assed deregulation sets up market manipulation more than either a regulated monopoly or a free market. That's more like what you'd have if you let HP set up regulations. People are going to be lining up to use HP's new service like t
  • FLOP? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vagary ( 21383 ) <jawarren AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:21PM (#6051585) Journal
    What's wrong with the good old flop? Or even simply instructions (of BogoMIP fame) or cycles? When you're dealing with the volume that grids (which is what this story is really about) will produce, you don't need a precise metric. And thanks to the Halting Problem, you'll be forced to buy the "computons" in even lots or risk losing computation time while transactions wait to clear.

    The important thing here is that HP is putting forward the idea of computation as a commodity. I just wish some researchers could have published a journal article instead of letting the marketing dept. get their greasy paws all over it.
    • I think that "Computrons" also include some measurement of space - but that would indicate that others' data is being stored on HP servers. Mind you, for some calculations, this would have to be done, at least on a temporary basis. Wonder what the papers on "privacy of data" and "liability" would be for this though.
    • I have no doubt that Computons will be a Flop so you should be covered.
    • The problem with flop (or bogomips, or whatever), is that they really only measure the processor speed. HP, IBM, and Sun would are using these measures to paper over the fact that their expensive servers are not anywhere near price competitive with Intel or AMD servers when it comes to raw processor power.

      To some extent their rules are justifiable as there is more to computer performance than processor speed, but the primary reason for coming up with these bogus units is that it makes it more difficult t

  • Coding Revolution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moehoward ( 668736 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:21PM (#6051588)
    Finally, a real excuse to get these slackers to write some optimized code.

    Just think of the issues this can raise with optimization. Realizing that some junior programmer just cost you 50,000 computons because he didn't initialize a variable.

    Maybe this is what we need to get people to start thinking like this again. For the love of god, anything to get some cleaner code.
    • Actually, this is more likely, a re-revolution. Some trends in the computer industry tend to be cyclical. The basic idea behind these services that HP, SUN, et. al. are providing sounds a lot like the days when smaller schools and companies rented time on larger schools and companies mainframes.
      It seems to me there is only a few main things that have changed. They changed the unit of measurement from time to this new computron (which will probably only confuse the some customers), and the hardware
    • that some junior programmer just cost you 50,000 computons

      But just how much do 50,000 computons cost?

    • Re:Coding Revolution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jerf ( 17166 )
      What on earth are you talking about? "Clean code" and "optimized code" are opposing forces!

      "Premature optimization is the root of all evil."

      The cleanest code will also be some of the most inefficient. (Note it does not work the other way around, of course, so read that sentence carefully before criticizing it!) The most efficient code will be pug-fugly, incredibly difficult to read without intimate knowlege of the whole system code, and will be very difficult to correctly change to boot.

      Done much program
      • "Clean code" and "optimized code" are opposing forces!

        Maybe back in the days programmers knew what they were doing and were optimizing with assembly, but not these days. Nowadays, they write thirty lines of code when they should've just written i++. It's even at the design level. They'll use a beowulf cluster of XML parsers when they just need to write a few integer values into a file. In these troubled days, "optimized" means "leave out the crap".

  • "Computon" sounds like the name of a robot from a cheesy 1980s kids' TV series.

    "Beware! I am the mighty Computon!"
    • I hereby change my official title at work from the bland "Information Technology Specialist" (feh) to:

      COMPUTON, MAN OF THE FUTURE!

      Watch the chicks start pouring in.
  • So how long... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aridhol ( 112307 )
    How long will it be before the definition of a computon needs to change [slashdot.org]?
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:24PM (#6051610) Homepage Journal
    Rearrange "computons" and what do you get?

    UN COMPOST

    Stop messing with our heads!

    • here are some better ones:

      COM NOT UP - The system is down yo.

      MOUNT COP - New file system or perversion of the legal system?

      PC MUON TO - The sub-atomic particle that Computons are made of.

      NU PC TOOM - Where old computers go when they die.

      UNO PC TOM - How many computers Tom can afford now that he pays by the computon.

      Props to Internet Anagram Server [wordsmith.org]

  • Does that ever sound like something Professor Frink would invent or what?
  • However... (Score:5, Funny)

    by jared_hanson ( 514797 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:25PM (#6051618) Homepage Journal
    Due to the fact that it is based on the kilogram, the bang-for-your-buck value of the Computon is steadily getting worse.
  • doesn't purchase computing services from both HP and Sun.
  • Computing on demand is destined for failure. The only way it will fly is for it to be forced down our throats, which is pretty hard to fathom considering the cheapness of off-the-shelf computing resources.

    Today, you can pick up a cheap server for $500. You want to double your capacity, spend another $500. As long as those machines meet your needs, there is no need to put out more money. Say they last 3 years -- $1000/5 = $200 per year. I haven't seen prices for computing on demand, but it pretty much
    • ``The only thing I can see on-demand being a good thing is if your computing needs are very high for a short time and then go back to normal levels. However, companies already have complete packages like this available for purchase (eg. distributed download sites, P2P computation clients).''

      Use the idle computer resources that are sitting on all the employees' desks. Got a dozen people sitting in a meeting? Let their desktop systems chew on some of the extra workload that's swamping the servers. I

    • by dprice ( 74762 )

      I agree that in its current form, this on-demand computing model will probably fail. Utility computing is mostly a vision put together by a bunch of executives that believe they can build a revenue stream analogous to power companies. They push the vision through the marketing department who make the vision all glossy and ready to sell to other companies. Research and Development teams are then instructed to come up with an implementation of the utility computing vision. From that directive you get the

    • The servers themselves may be cheap. However the hosting space, power, cooling, required network bandwidth, and support services add up pretty quickly. Most companies pay their IT departments to do these things; these costs get folded into runrate and only the cost of the servers and software are seen.

      If you outsource all of that work and pay a "computing utility" to perform all of these jobs then it starts making sense. A company could provide this service to many companies, which makes managing the va
    • Having sold their core business of testing and measurements, HP has been soul searching for a new relevant buisness model. This one is perfect! They can put to work all the Compaq computers they are not selling and they get to invent a new unit of measure. Excellent! It's just like the good old days when IBM and others rented time on their big iron. Such a new model. Others were sceptical of the complexity of the approach. One HP programmer who wished to remain anonymous said, "I don't know if we can

  • "HP also needs to figure out a way to build in pricing provisions to cover the possibility that companies will use more or less of a specific IT resource, like CPU cycles, than they have contracted for on a monthly basis."

    I believe the cell phone companies already figured this one out: rollover minutes!
  • For the time wasted here, i call it the slashdoton!

    I feel like the proffesor from the simpsons!
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:33PM (#6051694)
    "We will eventually get to a point where [IT vendors] charge for usage in real time," said Thornton May, a futurist in Biddeford, Maine

    If you're going to be a futurist, Thornton May seems like the perfect name to have. I just don't see this guy doing construction...
  • Computons... (Score:2, Informative)

    by rothic ( 596907 )
    ...remind me of This [bbspot.com]
  • I wonder if you get charged for the specific number of computrons needed to process your bill.
  • by Sophrosyne ( 630428 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:36PM (#6051724) Homepage
    Skills
    20 years experience with Unix
    Able to turn back computon meters- saving you millions!
    Works well in large groups...
  • This sounds like an office joke that got out of hand. It's the nerds messin with the Marketdroids. One of them took it seriously and dropped the press release bomb.
  • There is no need for the word "computon". Somebody at the University of Maryland Computer Vision Lab (probably Jim Williams), already coined the term 'crunchon' sometime around 1982.

    -jcr
  • HP announced a lot of interest in trading this new unit.

    Enron, Worldcom, HealthSouth to name a few.

  • by chiph ( 523845 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @04:53PM (#6051845)
    Someone please let them know they're 56 days late for their April Fools RFC.
  • /hummmm, how to get by the lameness filter? //Oh, yea...add no cap'ed text

    COMPUTON TRANSFORM!!!!!

    /me hides in shame

  • Back in the days of yore, when the world was in black and white and strange, man-eating beasts wandered the earth, I used to use a timesharing DECSystem 20. My interface to the beast was either a VT-50 or, on good days, a VT-52, and every month the Department of Mathematical Physics would receive a bill for my usage, in terms of CPU time and "pages".

    Yea verily there was much cheering as we broke the surly bonds of DEC and acquired BBC Micros and, later on, IBM PCs. And the world did acquire color, and th
  • If Computron and Optiumus Prime team up, can the finally beat Megatron and the Decepticons????
  • Only me? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @05:05PM (#6051914) Journal
    Seeking to emulate the pricing models utilities use to charge customers for kilowatt-hours of electricity based on the ebb and flow of power demand

    A question for my fellow /.'ers...

    When I read things like this, I feel very, very unhappy. I have a PC that does what I want, when I want it, and I don't pay any additional fees to use its capabilities. I don't pay more if I actually fill my HDD vs leaving it nearly empty. I don't pay more if I leave my CPU 99.9% idle compared to running three distributed clients just to keep every single cycle busy doing "real" work.

    I feel similarly about the software I use. I have an OS and a few apps, and I don't pay more when I actually use them compared with leaving them sitting uselessly on the disk. I don't pay for each image I Photoshop, I don't pay for each program invoked by the OS, I don't even pay every time I decide to surf the web.

    Even media files, I don't pay-per-view. If I queue up a bunch of Vorbis files, I don't pay every time I listen. Nor do I pay for watching a DVD I own.

    Yet, companies keep trying to move their business models to "buy once, pay forever". I can see the obvious benefits to the company, but it has NO benefit to the consumers.

    So to get to my actual question... Does anyone see even the faintest bit of logic behind these companies moving toward pay-per-use schemes? Not logic like "we'll make more money if we get enough suckers", obviously, but some real sensible reason why people might prefer to abandon any concept of "owning" the things they use daily, rather than paying continuously for "access" to them?
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @05:07PM (#6051928) Homepage Journal
    ... yes, but in California, all computrons must pass state EMF emissions tests, and because of contamination with "e-vile bits" that have leaked into the grounding rods, a Superfund Cleanup effort has to be funded with more state bonds to the tune of 87 billion dollars. Grey Davis claims that the state was ripped off by middleman bit traders after deregulation passed, and was forced by contracts to purchase overly expensive bits. The Green Party has issued a press release saying that the evile bits are DOUBLY evile, because they were created with "brown" power, not green. The Libertarian party has issued a statement saying "who cares, let the bit bucket market decide who pays what". The Democratic party has issued a statement saying that cronies of the current administration established shell companies in offshore havens in order to not pay "their fair share" of the cleanup. The Republican party has issued a release calling everyone a "cyberterrorist" and has established "computer camps" at guantanamo bay where recalcitrant anti e-vile bit protesters go to break large bits into smaller bits with hammers. The Reform party has said that all the evile bits have apparently crossed over the border illegally, and Pat Buchanan has said we all must "breed more americans before it's too late". The Constitution party has said "toldyaso, it's the debble" and advised that all evile bits be blasted with 12 gauges. The EFF has fled to an armored compound in maryland where combining hacked GPS receivers and supertrooper stage lasers manned by union stagehands, they have issued a decree to "You want some of this? Come and get us, ****wads!"

    So all in all, looks like another bad idea by those dastardly multinational heartless corporations.

    Technogeek website slash-n-burninator website is exploding with posts decrying that "it's all SCOs fault, or microsoft, and we don't care who gets nuked"

    Mozilla.org has issued an emergency decree that henceforth, all bits will be named firebits, until next week, when they will be called phonexiabits.

    Gentoo supporters are dropping like flies as they try to compile programs that are contaminated with evile bits, and vow to never speak the word california again.

    *BSD users have moved to canada en massee, the largest IT refugee movement in world history, where they have issued a release saying " eh, it's colder up here, eh, but we don't care mon, look what's legal here now".

    France, Germany, China and Russia have stopped all trade with california, and the UN has put california on the "sandbox" list of contaminated areas. Unfortunately, drudgereport has broken with a scoop that in reality, all the contaminated batches of evile bits got sent to california on Cosco container ships, with joint funding from the various "axis of dastards" nations. They are also issuing a demand via the UN that all computron evil bits be measured using the metric system "or else".

    In the mideast, it's the same ole crap, and no one cares really.

    Time warner AOL msnbc fox cnn abc and the RIAA and MPAA have declared that they have checked and there are "no" contaminated bits anyplace in their websites, but 85 million zaZZaers dispute this, as all files that have been traded since the begining of the crisis all say $%^&**((*%^&%%&&^*^* YOU!!, and have been apparently been done by the trio of madonna, yoko ono, and william shatner.

    It's GENERAL MAYHEM AND PANDEMONIUM!

    In economic news, sales of manual adding machines and typewriters were brisk today.....
  • www.computon.ru [computon.ru] belongs to, well... IN SOVIET RUSSIA computon measures YOU!
    =)
    Intriguingly that was the first link returned when I googled the proposed term.
  • Sounds familiar (Score:3, Informative)

    by Valar ( 167606 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @05:12PM (#6051980)
    This is the kind of scheme AT&T originally wanted to use to provide it's customers with computing power. Actually, that's why they developed multics (kind of). And of course, UNIX killed it. Just like cheap servers kill this kind of 'IT-on-demand' stuff.
  • It seems so complicated and vaguely defined that I'd rather call it Imperial.
  • by saforrest ( 184929 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @05:29PM (#6052141) Journal
    computon: not to be confused with Computron [unicron.us] the Transformer, formed when the Technobots merged together.
  • by TedTschopp ( 244839 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @05:30PM (#6052149) Homepage
    "We will eventually get to a point where [IT vendors] charge for usage in real time," said Thornton May, a futurist in Biddeford, Maine, and a Computerworld columnist. "If you want electricity on a hot day, you pay more. If you want bandwidth on a busy pipe-traffic day, you pay more."
    or perhaps the author didn't read the article. We are talking about computing power not bandwidth. This here is proof that the plan is confusing to people. Ted Tschopp
  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @06:37PM (#6052697) Journal
    HP didn't invent this idea by a longshot. While at MIT doing an undergrad EECS degree, we bandied about the idea of computrons (a metric of computational power, roughly equivalent to an abstracted number of instructions on a standard machine, but definitely not a direct measure of CPU cycles) and it wasn't new then, back in the early 80s.

    Further, one has been able to purchase time on supercomputers at varying rates since there have been supercomputer centers (again, early 80s?) where the rates depended on time of day, requested priority, etc. While I have no direct knowledge, one can readily assume the same was true even with batch processing mainframes: pay more and your job gets put closer to the top of the stack.

    So, what's new then? HP wants to factor in more variables in their pricing structure. This is a big deal?
  • by TFloore ( 27278 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2003 @06:39PM (#6052709)
    After all... would *you* want to submit a "lightweight process" that will be measured by the compuTON?

    Okay, bad joke. I only hope this gets modded down as repetitive. Someone else must have come up with this by now.
  • I just spent 45 minutes fruitlessly searching on Google for a paper written by an economist 5 or 6 years ago, in which he demonstrated that the overhead incurred by phone companies to meter and bill calls by the minute exceeds the actual cost of the service. His conclusion was that a flat rate for everybody would be more profitable for the telcos and would cost the public less overall. I often wonder about the value of all these schemes to make sure the right number of beans are in the right piles.
  • I implemented two such accounting systems for mainframe computers back in the 1970s. This was when you bought your CPU time from a mainframe service bureau, and paid real money for it.

    That industry is totally dead. Computation became too cheap to meter.

    This new scheme sounds like another micropayment idea. Like most micropayment ideas, it suffers from the problem that all the enthusiasm is from the people who want to collect the payments, not the people who want to make them. That's why micropayment

  • next they will redefine Pi as a whole number to 'ease' the mathmatical overhead in computing all these tough numbers :)

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