October 1st 2009, one and a half years ago, an announcement was published on the front-page that I, Pieter, was hired to be the first full-time employee working on HWBOT. The objective was simple: finding out whether it was possible to find the necessary funding for this website to not only cover the running costs and fill the already existing pit of investments done in the past, but also support the increasing development costs. The fact that I’m still officially working means that at the very least we did not fail, with thanks to the three companies in the upper right corner. It doesn’t mean our future is secured, but at least we can continue to find ways to succeed.
HWBOT and the new wave of overclocking.
There are several reasons why our future hasn’t been fully secured yet. Or, to put it differently, why it’s not easy to find the right amount of funding necessary to cover the expenses of, for instance, a full-time java developer. Without too much effort, I’d be able to cover a few pages with geographical, economical and other boring reasons, including myself not having a degree in business or marketing. But that wouldn’t interest any of you, I’m sure.
One of the arguments brought up every time this topic is being discussed is that overclocking is actually a relatively small market segment of the IT community. At least, that’s what we are all convinced of. The way I see it, however, is that the hobby ‘overclocking’ has reached a new, very interesting, phase in its existence.
Not so long ago, overclocking used to be something for a particular group within the gaming community. The main reason for youngsters to get into overclocking was to improve the performance of an already existing setup and make new games more playable. Overclocking was supposed to be something practical; something you do to obtain a significantly improved computing experience. Along the way, however, a small group within the ‘overclocking gamers’ figured it was fun to just try and obtain the highest score possible. Something we nowadays consider as trivial, for instance the fact that the frequencies we run are not for 24/7 usage, used to be almost unthinkable at a certain point in overclocking history.
At this point, when individuals start to gain interest in the highest possible score, the early legends are born. People like Oppainter, JCViggen, Macci, Sampsa, Kyosen (actually the entire Team Japan) and many others took overclocking to a whole new level. For the first time, using extreme cooling methods like phase-change, dry ice and liquid nitrogen was excessively used to obtain the highest scores possible. Extreme overclocking was born. Epic battles in SuperPI, on the FM ORB and, mostly, on local forums took place. Just browse through a few forums’ archives and read the older threads.
With the rising of MBot, the automatic ranking system for forums, and later the introduction of Mtzki’s hwboints algorithm, the hobby overclocking changed again. Today, I would argue that the overclocking community has torn loose from the gaming community and has become an entirely new type of hobby. It exists on its own; the real-life performance of hardware no longer matters. People who overclock nowadays do it for the fun of overclocking. Just to enjoy testing new hardware and see how it scales in different benchmarks, how temperatures affect the behavior, how far it can be pushed and so on. It’s also no longer the high-end or current generation of hardware only: nowadays we overclock all types of hardware, ranging from old-school and low-end to brand-new and extremely high-end.
This is something that hardware manufacturers and marketers are, most likely, not yet aware of. In fact, many of the current generation of hardware fine-tuned for overclocking still is aimed at the gaming community at first and (maybe) the overclocking community secondly. Marketers do not fully understand how overclocking has become something on its own and how the dynamics within this community are intrinsically different from those within the gaming community. Prime example is of course so-called ‘extreme overclocking mainboards’, which come with top-end audio, ten USB ports, dual-lan and so much more non-overclocking related features.
The role of HWBOT in this transition is hard to describe. If I were a slick marketer, I’d use this transition to point out how revolutionary HWBOT really is. Sadly enough, I’m more realist than capitalist and therefor see HWBOT more as a catalyst in this transition rather than sole cause of. More importantly than the role we have played in the past, however, is the role we will play in the future.
Your feedback and the future.
For obvious reasons, I see HWBOT playing an important role in the future of overclocking. Although the following lines are founded on a great deal of self-justification, over the past months and years HWBOT has been continuously involved in the development and support for the overclocking community. For instance, in the upcoming Rev4, a first step has been taken to physically separate the (semi-)professional overclockers from the hobbyists. More important than the HWBOT rankings, however, are the numerous overclocking meetings organized more and more often nowadays. Although it’s wrong to pretend OC events like AOCM (link) or OCForum’s meeting (link) should be considered achievements of HWBOT, it might not be so far-fetched to state that certain aspects of the HWBOT (e.g.: rankings, cups, points) are an incentive to set up this kind of meetings.
As I expect HWBOT to continue to play its role in the evolution of overclocking, I would like to invite everyone to share their feedback on the past 18 months of the semi-professional HWBOT as well as your idea on what the future should bring. Note that I’m not (only) looking for a pat on the back, but for actual feedback that is useful to determine the future of the bot. After all, although our business model states we try to obtain funding from hardware vendors, in the end this website has been set up to support the overclocking community (= you).
Thank you for the feedback,