An anonymous reader writes: NASA’s Perseverence rover, which is currently exploring Mars, has as it’s CPU a BAE Systems RAD 750 running at a 200 Mhz and featuring 256 Megabytes of RAM with 2 Gigabytes of storage. This is a radiation hardened version of the PowerPC G3, with specs roughly equivalent to the Clamshell Ibook that Reese Witherspoon used in Legally Blond back in 2001. This follows a tradition of old tech on space rovers — the Sojourner rover which explored Mars in 1997 used an Intel 80C85 running at 2 Mhz, similar to what could have been found in the classic Radio Shack TRS-80 model 100 portable from 1983.
In a comment on the original submission, long-time Slashdot reader Mal-2 argues “There’s not as much distance between the actual capabilities of a CPU now and twenty years ago as there would be if you made the same comparison a decade ago.”
In the last 12 years or so, the CPUs have gotten more efficient and cooler-running (thus suitable for portable devices) to a much greater degree than they’ve actually gained new functionality. Retro computing is either going to stay stuck in the 1990s, or it’s not going to be very interesting in the future.