You can thank Moore’s Law for your phone being out-dated
In South Africa, on the anniversary of the mobile phone contract, there is a big decision to be made: which cell phone to get. One of the reasons that is preventing you from making a decision is knowing that the moment you purchase your mobile phone, you know that the newer and better model is just around the next corner. This is partly thanks to a phrase that has accompanied almost every tech conference key-note presentation – “Moore’s Law”. Moore’s Law is the observation that “the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled approximately every year ” and this was later amended to “every two years”. Essentially what this means is that technology will evolve so fast the companies will be able to squeeze more power into smaller spaces for cheaper and this ability will double every two years. Essentially making your phone old by the time you get it home and set it up.
This prediction of the future was made by Gordon E. Moore, Intel’s founder, in an article published in Electronics Magazine on the 19th April 1965. This year, we mark the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law which has become almost the benchmark for companies allowing us to benefit from faster, smaller and cheaper devices. Companies who don’t keep up with doubling their technology every two years risk being labelled as “falling behind” and therefore they invest more into R&D. The better their products are, the more they need to evolve to be even better and so the cycle continues.
Having access to fast and cheaper processing chip is the enabler that allows companies to evolve their products. In 2015, Intel has the 5th generation Core processor which has 1.3 Billion transistors whereas only 3 years ago in 2012, Intel Core i5 processor had 1 billion transistors. This is a far cry from the 29 000 transistors on the 8088 processor that was in the first IBM PC which started the Personal Computer revolution back in 1981.
Technology is continuing its trajectory and becoming smaller, faster, cheaper which has allowed for tech companies to produce consumer products that we can carry in our pocket, wear on our wrist and be connected from wherever we happen to be. Over the past 50 years we have seen this Law in action as computers no longer need to be installed in their own room and watches have more chip-power in them than NASA’s entire system that sent a man to the moon. In the Tech industry, where products become out-dated almost as soon as they hit the shelves, it is impressive this Law has stood the test of time for over 50 years.
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*headline image: Intel.com