[ExI] Hard Drives, What Comes Next

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Tue Oct 29 23:14:45 UTC 2013

On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 10:43:03AM -0600, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> > I present this as refutation of the idea that hard drives are approaching
> > the end of their exponential growth, even in their current state.
> I present above statement as evidence that I can write anything,
> because nobody is going to read it, anyway. (Or, perhaps, I shouldn't
> bother writing anything at all, and save us all the aggravation).
> Either you believe in linear semilog plots, or you don't.

I believe they are a good approximation in many areas.

> So any deviation from a linear semilog is either evidence for you
> or against you. You can't have it both ways.

Agreed. Though you have to compare apples to apples, and sometimes that's
hard. For example, we can talk about the exponential growth of hard drive
space, but that negates the value of getting at those bits faster, which is
also important.

> Either you believe that there is a magic mechanism by which
> a technology arises just in time to be passed on the torch from
> the failing without stumbling, or you don't.

It's not magic. It is the result of work.

> If there's a falure to bridge the gap you'll get a kink in
> the curve, and inverted hockey stick. Some gaps are very short,
> some less so. You don't get to cherrypick which gaps are
> significant, and which aren't.

If the gaps are not leaped, then yes, it's a problem for the model. It may
also be the case that the measured doubling period was incorrect.

> So in 2027 the world will have 16 TW cumulated PV
> capacity, that's 48 TWp (currently it has 0.1 TWp,
> added within 20 years, this is lost in the error
> margins).
> You've got 7 doublings yet to go. I'll spell Ray's implications
> out, all errors are mine:
> year added capacity TWp
> 2010
>      +0.06 TWp (actual data)
> 2012
> 2013
>      +0.19 TWp (so far 0.037 TWp added in 2013, my guess this will be
> 0.077 TWp instead of 0.19 TWp, so -0.113 TWp gap)

So let me make sure I understand what you're saying. You're saying that Ray
predicted that there would be 0.19 TWp installed by year end 2013, and
there is actually 0.077 TWp installed.

According to Wikipedia, by end of 2012, the 100 GW installed capacity
milestone was achieved. If my math is correct, that makes 0.1 TWp, and
there is still a year between that number and the end of 2013. So where
does the 0.077 come from?

The thing that I remember Ray saying is that the price of solar panels per
watt was on a curve. Are we at all on target for that?

Ray gets things wrong, but so far, he has gotten more right than he has
gotten wrong. I never said it was a perfect science, but I know of no
better approach for trying to predict the future. Do you?

The thing that Ray sometimes misses is human psychology issues and
infrastructure issues. I've long said he was wrong about speech
recognition. He isn't a god and I'm not his acolyte.

> 2015
>      +0.38 TWp (mind the gap?)
> 2017
>      +1.5 TWp  (mind the gap?)
> 2019
>      +3.0 TWp  (mind the gap?)


According to Global Data  The Global Solar PV installed capacity will leap
frog from the current 96GW to 330GW by 2020 and will showcase a CAGR of

In another article, it states:
“No one would have predicted even 10 years ago that we would see more than
100 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity in the world by 2012,” said EPIA
President Winfried Hoffmann. “The photovoltaic industry clearly faces
challenges but the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for
our technology. Even in tough economic times and despite growing regulatory
uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011.”

So by your rendering of Ray's Numbers, by 2020 Ray predicts that we will
have just under 5 TWp installed, and the solar industry is thinking more
like 330 GW will be installed by then.

I'd be willing to bet here on the record that we will have more than 330 GW
installed by 2020.

> 2021
>      +6.0 TWp  (mind the gap?)
> 2023
>      +12 TWp   (mind the gap?)
> 2025
>      +24 TWp   (mind the gap?)
> 2027
> Do these numbers really look good to you? You'll notice we're already kinda
> off-track, here.

They don't look especially good, no.  But I was discussing hard drive
prices and then you changed the subject before we could talk numbers.

> How do you like your serving of crow? Roasted, boiled, smoked?

Roasted please. 2012 was a bad year for solar. They didn't sell as much as
they did in 2011. Not making excuses, but I don't think anyone would have
predicted that. Ray is famous for saying that economic downturns won't
effect his data over the long term, but in this case I'm guessing that is
precisely what has happened.

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