If you're producing podcasts at the rate we are at ZDNet, roughly one every two business days, you may have found what I've learned -- that system horsepower equates to time saved. For example, in working with our raw audio using the open source-based Audacity (available for OS X, Windows, and Linux), I've found myself tapping my fingers plenty of times as I wait for the final mix to be rendered in MP3 format. Or sometimes, when I try to strip out some noise or amplify the audio (effects that can be applied with most audio editors), I'll run to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. More often than not, I turn to another system do some e-mails and blogs.
Another performance problem I've bumped into with the 867 Mhz Apple PowerBook I've been using for my podcasting studio is that if I make any attempt to compress audio while recording (something that Audio Hijack Pro can do), the audio starts to skip. Basically, this means I'm losing bits and pieces of the audio. It's no biggie. I can go to uncompressed audio. But that means I must also watch the hard drive fill up faster than a fire hose can fill a measuring cup. So, for the first time in a long time, I find myself "performance challenged."
So, whereas I normally don't bother to open press releases from vendors that normally cater to serious gamers, now, I had a reason to take a second look at anything that could keep my podcast productions from choking. Today, when I received a press release from VoodooPC with the subject VoodooPC launches a Dual AMD Opteron Processor Workstation that fits inside a shoebox, I decided to open it.
Inside, I spied the following text:
VoodooPC, a world leader in the design and manufacturing of high-performance personalized computer systems, today announced the launch of a new mini multiprocessor workstation featuring a pair of low voltage AMD Opteron Processors. The Voodoo DOLL DCC is the smallest Dual Processor professional workstation, supporting the latest technologies from NVIDIA and AMD. This workstation is designed to run graphic intensive 3D animation applications, CADD design, or any processor & graphics demanding applications. Voodoo DOLL DCC is lightweight and portable and can be moved around with very little effort.
Granted, many of my performance problems would go away if I opted for one of the latest greatest notebooks from Apple or an Intel-based manufacturer. But, whereas these systems are great for the podcaster that needs a lot of mobile flexibility, they may also require the toting around of extra gear to expand their audio capabilities. If you're positive that you're not going anywhere with your rig, something a bit more stationary like VoodooPC's shoebox sized Doll looks like the sort of system that won't leave you thirsting for more horsepower. Of course, although VoodooPC says that the system is small enough to move around, just bear in mind that this sort of mobility is good for podcasters that set up stationary studios everywhere they go (and that always have access to AC power). Performance like this doesn't come cheap. Via e-mail, I asked VoodooPC spokesperson Rahul Sood what the price was and he responded "around $3700+". The system runs Windows XP Pro and soon, will run SuSE Linux as well.