name: storage, released
TRS-80 Model 100: 8KB, 1983
Mini Linux Laptop: 2GB, 2008
That's 6 orders of magnitude in 25 years.. Not that I can buy a Model 100 for £99.
Storage increase in laptops:
Posted Jun 24, 2008 7:29 UTC (Tue) by ekj (guest, #1524)
The scary thing, or atleast the mindboggling one is trying to extrapolate this and imagine
what we'll be DOING with it.
Okay, so you say 6 OOM in 25 years. I think if you compare similarily-priced computers its
actually more than that. The TRS-80 cost a lot more (inflation-corrected) in 1983 than a 2GB
laptop cost today. I think the real number is more like 7OOM.
So, what does that mean if present trends continue for the NEXT 25 years ?
2GB * 10^7 ram.
It's a -gargantuan- number, it means your laptop by then will have more RAM than the
googlecluster has today. Infact it'll have RAM comparable to the sum total of ALL laptops in
USA today, give or take a OOM.
Posted Jun 26, 2008 11:36 UTC (Thu) by Duncan (guest, #6647)
However, there's another dimension that you've failed to figure in, that
of overall computer size. It turns out that at least for the past 25-50
years (the 50 years earlier measured, or the 25 here) at least, we've
found the practical benefits of overall computer miniaturization
beneficial as well, such that in practice they've absorbed some of those
OOMs you mention. It's the oft pointed out main-frame (room size) >
mini-computer (large appliance size) > desktop (medium appliance size) >
laptop (small appliance size) > handheld/umpc > cell-phone > watch...
trend. As storage and computation increases, we've chosen to trade off an
OOM every decade or so to graduate to the next smaller sized unit.
If the per-decade size generation trend continues, normal people won't be
using laptops anymore in 25 or even, really, 10 years, as we'll downshift
a size or two or three instead. Just as trends indicate people are now
switching to laptops instead of desktops and UMPCs instead of laptops,
because the smaller size now has more power than the larger size did a few
years previously and it's all the power really needed at that usage point,
a decade from now, computers the size (and likely cost as well) of today's
remotes/MP3-players/cell-phones will be the norm (low/high-end), while
packing the computing power of today's dual-quad-core servers.
OTOH, we're up against the wall of the human body's I/O limitations
already, probably the reason we didn't migrate smaller several years ago,
when the computing power of a desktop first exceeded that really necessary
for office applications and the like. Some people just like a full sized
keyboard and a nice sized display, and that human interface is *NOT*
shrinking with Moore's law, unfortunately.
For decades, Science Fiction's answer has been change the interface, voice
recognition and eye-glasses displays, with direct neural tap interfaces
predicted beyond that, but the required AI and materials science hasn't
really made that first leap practical as yet, tho it /is/ tantalizingly
close... but we've thought that for over a decade, as well.
Still, the keyboard and large external display as human I/O method is
simply going to have to give if we're to graduate down below the UMPC
level. Or maybe we'll end up with ubiquitous built-in
keyboard/display/Internet units everywhere, and plugin/wireless-in our
computer" everywhere we go, much as folks are doing with the thumb-drives
Or, just perhaps, the just-a-few-years long trend of actually shrinking
cost will become the dominant factor going forward, and those now $400
UMPCs like the Eee and friends will be $30-50 or even <$10, while
containing the power and storage of today's big-drive quad-core
desktop/servers, but with the permanent data stored "in the cloud" and
with I/O to ubiquitous permanent displays/keyboards where needed as
mentioned above, so the individual units become disposable, like the
digital watches one can now buy in the dollar store.
I really do think that the average person's usage really is being met now,
thus the focus on smaller but more important CHEAPER we are seeing, and
that that fact is not going to change -- UNLESS some "killer app" like
truly practical general purpose (not limited purpose/vocab as we see now)
voice recognition and hidef spectacles displays suddenly appear.
If /that/ happens, then we'll see the drive to smaller (but with whatever
resources are necessary to drive the voice recognition AI) reassert itself
over cheaper, down to the point they can be embedded in the eye-glasses
themselves. Since such a practical general purpose voice recognition AI,
should it appear, is likely to be fairly resource intensive for even
today's multi-core desktops, the process of miniaturizing the hardware
(and power requirements) to the watch-battery size point, for embedding in
those spectacles, is going to take a fair bit of that 25 years, anyway.
Beyond that... well, we'll just have to see where that
neuromanceresqe "jacking in" tech is, at that point.
Posted Jun 26, 2008 13:44 UTC (Thu) by ekj (guest, #1524)
That's true. You get a 7oom quicker computer for $5000 now, compared to a similar sum of money
(inflation discounted) 25 years ago.
But people don't BUY those. They buy $500 - $1000 computers instead, and spend some extra on
getting small rather than powerful at that. (laptop-hds are much more expensive pro GB than
It's already all in the IO. I've got one 17" laptop and one 12", the difference isn't in the
power (it's there, but I rarely care) but in the fact that the 17" is just better if I need a
lot of screen pixels or a lot of physical screen-size.
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