Finally, a solid excuse not to upgrade
If you're still clinging to your Pentium 60, holding out until the Next Big Thing hits the streets, you may want to look at this New Scientist article about Moore's Law and large calculations. Here's the crux of the story: a group of researchers wanted to know if really large calculations wouldn't be processed sooner if they waited for faster hardware before starting the calculation.
To find out, they constructed a simple mathematical model based upon Moore's law. Propounded in 1965 by Gordon Moore, one of the founders of the computer chip maker Intel, this states that the computational power available at a particular price doubles roughly every 18 months.
Their results indicate that some folks may be better off taking a year off and buying a new computer before starting their computations. So hit the beach! If you need some reading material during your hiatus, you can read the original paper on the topic right here
. (Thanks to Josh Maizel, TR newshound extraordinaire, for digging up this one.)