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The Whiteboard


DATE: Mon 06 Aug 2012
BY: Stephen Aldridge

The Whiteboard

It was an interesting week at The Whiteboard…With the delivery of two new mini PCs to the office, spec’d out by our trusted PC guru and IT support ‘go-to guy’; Dee Lowndes of As You Need, they were quickly fired up and put to the test; with the first response being ‘Wow, that was quick…’ I decided it was time for an upgrade.

(I should probably explain what ‘The Whiteboard’ is to Numeritas. As it sounds, and as you remember from school, it is, in fact, a whiteboard. This board is of the large variety and is covered with a lot of the internal discussions had on various projects, clever and elaborate solutions all the way to the insane ramblings of madmen. The best lunch options in the area can be found at the bottom of the board too. That being said it is one of the most useful tools in the office for the team to collaborate, elaborate and evolve throw-away comments into actionable snippets of usable information and code for client projects.)

After jumping on the Dell website and ordering myself a new laptop Dell subsequently received the long 16 digit number on the front of the card and we were relieved of a few pounds.

Following a quick run around the OS of the two new computers in the office it was noticed that actually the Intel i5 brain could handle a fair number of processes at any one time. But could the multi-core architecture stand up to our use of VBA (which is a single threaded process) and does NOT make use of multiple cores? Would the new chip be powerful enough to run Excel and VBA with its single threaded requirements fast enough to keep everyone happy?

As the Numeritas tech savvy staff looked on in wonder one member slumped back to his desk to ponder the question.

This particular team member, also in the market for a new computer, felt it would be doubtful if it could stand up to his needs and God forbid he should move away from his trusty Dell laptop, born around the turn of the century. Little was heard from him for the rest of the day. I, on the other hand, started to eagerly await the arrival of my new toy…

In true Numeritas fashion when faced with a problem we view the variables of said problem, reflect on the problem itself and then analyse the problem looking at all the solutions. Only then will we stand up and show our best solution to the room, challenging for a better one, should anyone dare…

A few days later, the aforementioned team member approached the board and wiped a little corner clean where he could demonstrate the solution to the ‘best CPU to have’ on-going internal debate. He felt it was important to note the performance of some (all) the current (old) computers in the office as well as the newer ones and that of those now nicely sitting in our meeting room and front office presentation suite. He also kindly listed the information of the current Intel i3, i5 & i7 chips available including the ultra-low voltage (ULV) range (for notebooks). Core count, core speed, benchmark performance etc…

At this point I should add that DHL had arrived slightly before (I swear he was waiting for them) with my shiny new toy. I had just unwrapped (ripped open) the box and fired it up with a small audience behind me… First comment: ‘Wow, that’s not as fast as the ones from Dee’. Even though it was sporting 8GB of Ram, an SSD and one of those juicy i5s (albeit only the ULV version).

A week later I still look at the Whiteboard to see in the top right-hand corner that my new laptop’s benchmark score is not as high as the new desktops’ i5s and only twice as good as his ‘older’ laptop. I do however have a better machine than all of the de-commissioned computers from yesteryear, although it is very clear that should you be considering buying a new laptop take a thorough look at your hardware and know what multi-threading requirements your applications need your machine to be able to deliver. Failing that just give us a call at the office!

I also smile in the knowledge that it has yet to let me down in any aspect of my Excel needs!

Stephen Aldridge BSc, MBA, ACMA

Stephen is a Chartered Management Accountant and has over ten years of financial modelling experience both at KPMG and Deloitte. His early career included engineering, sales and corporate management roles. In 2004, Stephen joined Numeritas as a co-owner and a Managing Director.

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