[Beowulf] First 96-Node Transmeta Desktop Cluster Ships

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Thu May 5 06:06:09 PDT 2005

At 07:18 AM 5/5/2005 -0400, Andrew Piskorski wrote:
>On Thu, May 05, 2005 at 12:35:14AM +0200, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
>> Please note that nowadays your salaries for programmers, world wide seen, 
>> are not true at all.
>If I recall correctly, the example given was a "structural analyst"
>costing an employer 250k USD/year; he said nothing specific about
>programmers, or software.  This is a reasonable example.  There are
>many, many highly skilled workers in different niches (including
>programmers) around the world who cost their employers easily that,
>sometimes much, much more (think Wall Street traders.)

Your example is ONLY true for programmers living in big cities in USA.

You ignore 95% of the world.

>I'm somewhat suspicious of those 96 Transmeta processors myself.  As I
>think has been discussed before on this list, I suspect that a box of
>Opterons might make more sense in many cases.  Which means that
>Orion's obvious competitor in this new niche market might be

As i said, i was and still am very impressed that a company suddenly can
create from scratch such an impressive machine. 

I find their pricing a tad expensive given the current big recession Europe
and USA are in, especially europe, and perhaps i'm naive to believe that a
Euro-Russian product typically has more chance of getting sold in Europe,
than in USA.

>  http://www.rocketcalc.com/
>  http://www.orionmulti.com/
>But claiming that there is no plausible market for a $100k "cluster in
>a box under my desk" is just plain silly.  There most certainly is a
>plausible market, the open question is how much it's worth and whether
>companies like Orion can capture it.

Let's call it the 'freak' market.

Freak not meant in a negative way.

>> Secondly in this country, i would really be HAPPY with a contract job to
>> parallellize software (or whatever algorithmic software) around $30k.
>Vincent, in that case, I feel fairly safe in assuming that at least
>one of the following must be true:
>1. The economy in the Netherlands is much, much worse than I imagined.
>2. You are not nearly as good a programmer as you seem to think.
>3. You are very confused about the economic opportunities that are or
>   are not available to you.
>4. You are extremely picky in what jobs you will take, or otherwise
>   have an unusually low interest in maximising your personal income.

I'm making mass market software with my team, don't worry about me.

www.diep3d.com :)

>The common theme here is that YOU personally are in no way a
>representative sample of Orion's potential customers.

Oh well i have some software i wrote here in my spare time that i would
like to sell, but regrettably falls under category 5 of the Wassenaar.org
export treaty;
it can use this Orion machine very well :)

>Although I have no idea what percentage of the US programming
>workforce they might represent, I have every confidence that there are
>large numbers of downright INCOMPETENT programmers in the USA making
>salaries of $70k+/year (with an actual cost to their employer of
>perhaps twice that), which is somewhere in the same ballpark as the
>average salary for US programmers in general, depending on what survey
>you believe.  And I would be astonished if European companies are much
>more efficient in wringing value out of their employees than American

In general 10% of the programmers do 90% of the work, that will be the case
world wide too. I'm personally in contact with several programmers living
and working in the far east, under which several Indian programmers.

They simply make more hours there than the average programmer does do in
USA and most mass software gets produced by now in the far east.

It is just not true that a single programmer there produces less quality of
a work than an US programmer. In contradiction, usually they work way
longer a week than programmers in Western-europe / USA do.

USA and western europe are the same in the way things work with respect to
working hours, the payment is however different. 

Let's give a few examples.

Income tax here is 42% - 52%
Value added tax to products is 19%
let's not discuss cars and fuel.

The dollar is real low now, but even then the average coder here (hardly
anyone gets hired as a programmer, but usually as 'sysadmin' as they can
pay less then) who just graduates from college starts at 1800 euro bruto
salary a month. Soon that goes up to 2000 euro a month.

But only a few are so happy to get hired as a 'programmer'. Only a few
lucky ones out of those get a salary of 40000 euro a year.

Whatever measure you take, programmers here simply earn a factor 2 less
than the average programmer in USA.

$70000 really is where most start with in USA, with very little taxes to
pay from that. $70k salary here would directly get a tax rate of 52%.

The salaries of programmers are by far the biggest cost factor to produce
software. It's more than logical that a lot of software therefore moves
away from USA to europe/asia, and from europe to asia.

The total cost of a programmer in Asia really is 10% of what it costs in USA.

So you can risk hiring 10 persons there and 9 of them being an idiot.

In USA if you hire 1 person, there is still this 90% chance he messes up :)

The traditional definition of what a programmer is, is fading away too.

Perhaps a good example is comparing with the past. We had end of 19th 
century a few very famous cigar factories here.

My great-great-grandfather operated the steam machine in this cigar
factory. By doing that, after the owner of the factory, he was one of the
most important persons within that factory. As he could operate the machine!

He was paid well for his days.

50 years later, every worker out of the 3000+ workers could operate machines.

So if my great-great-grandfather would have been doing his old work in
those days, he would have been paid real little.

This is what happens with programming too.

Nowadays everyone can program. 
Everyone is a programmer.

In Netherlands most companies have adapted to these lower standards
definitions and pay less therefore.

I'll have to find the first company who wants to hire an expensive
programmer above a cheap one. In both cases they take a risk they say, so
why not choose the cheapest programmer for 1800 euro a month?

So getting hired nowadays as a programmer is not a good idea. I do not know
about USA in that respect.

>So although there is very wide variation, an above average programmer
>should, over time, have little difficulty in grossing $70k USD or more
>in salary per year, if he is aware of and pursues that goal.  (Other
>countries would be somewhat different, of course.)
>As for that wide variation, well, the market for programming talent
>appears to be pretty innefficient.  Paul Graham has good ideas about
>why this is probably so:
>  http://www.paulgraham.com/gh.html
>Andrew Piskorski <atp at piskorski.com>
>Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org
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