Ship Computer questions

BigDogsRunning

Banded Mongoose
Computer rating/price/TL aside, is there supposed to be any actual mechanical difference between regular ship computers, and Computer Cores? Cores seem to be just expensive ways of getting higher powered computers at lower TL's, for more $$$.

Am I missing something? Since they can all use the same software, why isn't there simply a good scaling system to take computers from Computer/0, through Computer/100+?

Also, software like Virtual Crew, and Virtual Gunner, seems to be fairly useless when scaled to Capital ships, in spite of them usually having massively parallel Computer Core systems, compared to Advanced Fire Control, which gives a bonus to any number of gunners, seemingly an equally, if not much more difficult task.

Am I the only one who thinks there could be a better system for this?

This is not an attempt to advocate for "more realistic" computers, simply curious if there is anything published that I've missed on this, or if anyone has good head-canon to put this in perspective.
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
BigDogsRunning said:
Computer rating/price/TL aside, is there supposed to be any actual mechanical difference between regular ship computers, and Computer Cores?
No basic difference. Cores run Jump Control at no processing cost.

If you allow the Retrotech (Core, p107) rule to apply to shipboard computers, low tech Cores are really cheap...


BigDogsRunning said:
Also, software like Virtual Crew, and Virtual Gunner, seems to be fairly useless when scaled to Capital ships, ...
Quite, they don't scale.


BigDogsRunning said:
Am I the only one who thinks there could be a better system for this?
I believe Mongoose generally go for simplicity. A more complicated system is not always better.

You could house-rule that large ships can have several concurrent computers, coordinated by a Core computer?
 

BigDogsRunning

Banded Mongoose
While Retrotech/Prototech isn't specifically mentioned in High Guard, it does specifically state that the computers installed in a ship work just like personal computers.

Retrotech/Prototech application would make the same sense for ship computers as it does for personal computers. Higher TL should be able to make old computer hardware much more cheaply. Has anything been explicitly stated on this, or, how do people generally rule on that.

How do people handle things like pulling a data core for transfer to another ship, or upgrading a ships computer? Big deal? Quick swap out for a new compute core?
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
BigDogsRunning said:
Retrotech/Prototech application would make the same sense for ship computers as it does for personal computers. Higher TL should be able to make old computer hardware much more cheaply. Has anything been explicitly stated on this, or, how do people generally rule on that.
As far as I can see it's RAW, but I don't allow it. It makes Core/8 way to cheap at higher TLs, and it will outcompete normal computers everywhere, down to fighters.


BigDogsRunning said:
How do people handle things like pulling a data core for transfer to another ship, or upgrading a ships computer? Big deal? Quick swap out for a new compute core?
I would say a "computer" is not just a small module, but more like the IT infrastructure in an office building. It includes servers here and there; networks with cabling, routers, and wireless networks; communications equipment and firewalls to connect to external networks; etc.

So to take it out and install it into your own ship would be difficult and time-consuming. It would also be hardened against intrusions, so getting control over it might not be trivial.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
From the layman's perspective, at our current technological level, we range from let's say the International Business Machines personal computer in nineteen eighty one (three thousand nanometres), to the current Ryzen Fifty Nine Fifty (seven nanometres), and probably to one nanometre silicon wafers for whatever succeeds the Ryzen series.

I've always joked that you could use an iPhone to calculate a jump course and control the jump drive, as well as spaceship systems on a smallish starship.

Within this context, retroteching is sort of hard to get a grip on, considering that manufacturing facilities escalate in price for each more advanced process; it also costs a lot of money to try and backport a more complex node to a larger one. because it's rather clear, that economies of scale kick in exponentially, in that the smaller the footprint of whatever you are trying to make, the more of them you can harvest, assuming your facility follows all the protocols to ensure the process is completely sanitized and isn't interrupted.

Outside of that, same technological level budget variant would apply, whether it requires additional energy, or it's a larger size. Oh wait ...
 

Old School

Mongoose
AnotherDilbert said:
You could house-rule that large ships can have several concurrent computers, coordinated by a Core computer?
Is it still has a house rule when MJD has already done it? The Element Cruisers and the Deepnight Revelation box sets feature capital ships running concurrent computers, and in a couple of cases, modular sections of ships with their own independent computers.

No explanation or limitations are given, but it makes sense that computer processing capacity ought to be able to scale up as needed. I think in these cases ref would need to house rule under what circumstances this could be done, or with what limitations.
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
Old School said:
Is it still has a house rule when MJD has already done it? The Element Cruisers and the Deepnight Revelation box sets feature capital ships running concurrent computers, and in a couple of cases, modular sections of ships with their own independent computers.

Has he? I don't know about Deepnight, but Element class ships have two computers, one primary and one backup with lower processing score, just as HG suggests.

Breakaway sections and Pods seems to be more or less self contained and can have separate bridges (Sub-Command Centres) and computers.
 

Old School

Mongoose
Two of the Element Cruisers show a Core/100 and Core/90. One (oddly, the smallest) shows Core/100 X 2. Even though the Amara class shows a Core/90 as the second computer, the Deepnight Revelation is described as having the two main computers from its original life as an Amara class cruiser, plus a third, and the Stat sheet shows Core/100 X 3. So there's inconsistency, but the idea of multiple computers of the same processing power running concurrently is established in both.

The TL16 Dreadnaught from Behind the Claw also has two Core/100 computers.
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
The Element cruisers explicitly have two computer systems, one of which is a backup:
ECC said:
All ships in the family have two primary computer systems. Both use a separate distributed architecture with nodes at critical points. The primary system has more of its nodes in the fore and spinal sections, the backup in the aft section, but both have components throughout the ship.

The two Core/100 computers in the Kumakirri I would say is a mistake.


If you allow several computers, you can just skip computers at all and just say that all large ships all software all the time. You can assume every turret is controlled by a retrotech Core/40 running Fire Control/5. All limitations and hence all choice is removed.
I don't like it and will not allow it.
Grumpy_Old_Men_.jpg
 

Old School

Mongoose
Your game, your rules. What is logical on its own merit and what makes for good game play are only slightly correlated. And MJD isn't one to let rulebooks limit him on what he does in his Traveller books.

To address the original question, I have little doubt there is a more elegant way to address computing power. The standard computer vs "core" computer concept is an artifact from Classic Traveller, which was published at a time when when few imagined the miniaturization of computing power that we have today.
 

dmclean62

Mongoose
I was looking at raw flop specs recently. The new iPhone 12 chip is rated at 800 Gflops. The Cray X-MP (worlds fastest super-computer 1983-1985) was only rated 800 Mflops.

So yeah, if a Cray could calculate a jump, the my phone could easily do the same calculations.

Apple silicon currently uses 5nm technology.

But retro-tech is an actual thing, even now (Raspberry Pi). I've heard people talk about "play balance" but my vision of what that means is more "sauce for the goose".

I've been working on my own rules revisions, but keeping AnotherDilbert's point firmly in mind - this is Traveller, which uses a streamlined designed so as to not bog everyone down in minutia (compare Traveller skills with GURPS skills, for example). In my rules, computers are an integral part of the ship and don't have to be paid for separately, except for certain types of specialty computers (ship library).
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
If you backport an existing computer chip, you're basically doubling the cost.

On the other hand, if you have basically paid off existing machinery and don't have to retool, the older computer chip should be considerably cheaper to manufacture.

Basically, part of Sony's and Microsoft business model is to supply just enough consoles at the beginning of a generation to generate and maintain gamer interest and market share, at a considerable loss, and the manufacturing costs go down for each subsequent batch. In theory, not accounting for black swan and plague events.
 
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