July 30, 2012
Moore's law illustrated (I)
The 256 MB USB flash drive cost as much as the 1 GB flash drive. The 8 GB flash drive cost a third of the 1 GB flash drive. I got the 8 GB flash drive because I needed to spend seven more bucks to get free shipping on an Amazon order. Seven bucks!
That's less than a dollar a gigabyte. I can remember paying a dollar a megabyte for hard drives. Hard drives now sell for ten cents a gigabyte. Not to mention that the actual chip on a USB flash drive is no bigger than your thumbnail.
Speaking of thumbs, the rule of thumb devised by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore held that microprocessor performance (usually counted in term of transistor density) would double every two years. It's held true now for three decades.
Moore's law will eventually run into quantum tunneling and heat dissipation problems, and the limits of photolithography. Manufacturers are already adjusting by moving motherboard components onto the CPU and increasing the number of cores.
When chip makers can't go smaller, they go sideways.
Supercomputers are not the hulking, super-specialized mainframes science fiction once imagined, but are massively parallel servers built using off-the-shelf components. And waiting in the wings are optical and quantum computers.
My first computer had 64 kilobytes of memory and two 191 kilobyte floppy disk drives.
Moore's law illustrated (II)
The accidental standard
MS-DOS at 30