Moore’s law hits an inflection point

An article at the Economist that continues the theme of changing the metrics by which progress is measured, a theme explored at E_F for quite a while:


There is strong demand for technologies that do the same for less money, rather than more for the same price

FOR years, the computer industry has made steady progress by following Moore’s law, derived from an observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, now the world’s biggest chipmaker….the cost of a given amount of computing power falls by half roughly every 18 months; so the amount of computing power available at a particular price doubles over the same period…But now things are changing, partly because the industry is maturing, and partly because of the recession. Suddenly there is much more interest in products that apply the flip side of Moore’s law: instead of providing ever-increasing performance at a particular price, they provide a particular level of performance at an ever-lower price.

The most visible manifestation of this trend is the rise of the netbook, or small, low-cost laptop.

they are cheap, costing as little as £150 in Britain and $250 in America, and they are flying off the shelves: sales of netbooks increased from 182,000 in 2007 to 11m in 2008, and will reach 21m this year, according to IDC, a market-research firm.

The story ascribes the reason for this shift to the change in the economy, but I feel the change was in the works anyway. The frontier of computer innovation and order-of-magnitude increases in utility doesn’t lie along along the vector of increasing processor power, but on the vector of increasing connectivity, and innovative connections of free software.

related posts at e_F:

On preconceptions about technology clouding judgment:

On the netbook phenomena:

link to story in the Economist:

Moore’s law hits an inflection point

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