Learning for 2020

My journey to understand what life will be in year 2020 and how we should prepare our next generation to cope with life at 2020.

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The technology platform in 2020

In a relative old blog, There's Plenty of Room in the Future (dated May 9, 2003) Naval Ravikant wrote:
Twenty years ago, the personal computer revolution fuelled silicon valley based on two drivers:
  • The complexity for minimum component costs in the semiconductor industry increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year and a half (Moore's Law). This drove up CPU speed, RAM size, GPU power, etc.

  • Hard disk storage for a given cost increased by a factor of two every 9-12 months

  • Geometric growth in CPU power and disk space drove the PC revolution. Big winners -- Intel, Seagate, Microsoft, others...

    In the last five to ten years, it became obvious that other predictable factors were at play:

  • Modem speeds doubled every 21 months, up until the point where they made the jump to broadband

  • Optical communications bandwidth doubled to tripled every year

  • LAN bandwidth increased 10x every two to three years

  • Geometric growth in modem speeds, LAN networking, and optics drove the Internet revolution. Big winners -- Yahoo! Ebay, Google, others...

    In the last three-five years, yet more steadily advancing technical trends have come into play:

  • Internet traffic continues to double every year for the foreseeable future

  • CMOS image sensors are doubling in density every 18 months

  • Liquid Crystal Displays and Liquid Crystal on Silicon are increasing panel size and density, roughly doubling every two to three years

  • Solid-state non-volatile memory is doubling in capacity every 18 months

  • Improved power management and new batteries are increasing effective battery life by about 20-30% every year

  • Wireless networks are doubling in capacity every 18 months

  • On the other hand, I saw a report about a 64-bit traffic jam. According to the growth trend of the internal memory of computer (RAM), the physical address space for a 32-bit computer is 4G. Today, most consumer grade desktop computer are sold with 512M RAM (Dell is promoting a free upgrade to 1G today). If the trend continues, the 4G limit will be reached in a couple of years. Will the current lack of software support for 64-bit computing spell the first reversal of the trend? I doubt that!

    The current consumer grade computer has over-supplied the computational power to the average users. The main economic driving force will be a new application which will use up the current over-supplied computational power. Will that come from video processing? image processing? natural language processing? I don't know. Whatever that may be, it will change the life in 2020.


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