[extropy-chat] and the nano/holo fun goes on...

Dan Clemmensen dgc at cox.net
Mon Aug 16 01:47:01 UTC 2004

Don't worry, there are a lot of drivers for investment in performance 
in semiconductors and storage, and the phenomenon you worry about is already

You can apply more computational power to a problem in either or two ways:
you can get faster processors, or more processors. We are getting 
increasingly better
at distributed computing. Yes it's hard,a nd yes, it works better for 
some problems
than for others. But our canonical worked example for intelligence, the 
biological brain,
appears to be a massively distributed implementation.

For disk drives, we see exactly the "problem" you mention. Drives have 
quit doubling
in capacity, and instead are now dropping in price, specifically because 
a nominal 1-drive
system has "enough" capacity.  You should look at
occasionally to get a feel for this trend. Disk capacity improvement 
have consistently
outpaced processors performance improvements for at least the last five 
years. The current
"sweet spot" for cost/GB is at about 250GB for $.50/GB, at retail.  Add 
$500 for a cheap
computer to house four drives: you get 1TB for $1000.

The only way I know to use this much disk at home is to store DVDs. 
Storing audio
CDs hardly counts: my entire CD collection fits on <<300GB with lossless 
You can store about 5 audio CDs with lossless compression (flac) in one 
GB, for a storage
cost of $.20/CD. Storage cost for a DVD would be about $4.00, which is a 
small fraction
the purchase price of a DVD. In my case I have a legal, physical CD for 
each of the CD images
on disk, but you can see why the RIAA and MPAA are panicking.

If the semiconductor manufacturers move off the performance curve, they 
will simply move
to the price curve instead. We will see retail computers at $100. With 
the semiconductor content
dropping in price each year. due to intense competition on margins. But 
this means that
the cost of building a cluster will drop dramatically, so the 
singularity continues to advance
at its inexorable pace.

Kevin Freels wrote:

>I agree with your point...Yet your point is disturbing. The drive for ever
>faster processing speeds and exponential increases in storage capacity was
>created by our willingness to pay top dollar for the improvements. What you
>are saying is that now, since we no longer have that need, the market for
>these improvements in processing speeds and storage is no longer there. (I
>have had 40GB for going on 3 years and still only use 9 of it.)
>If this is the case, then it is just a matter of time before companies
>realize it and stop investing as much into improvements in these areas.
>Moore's Law would become a thing of the past and singularity would move even
>farther beyond the horizon.
>From: "Dan Clemmensen" <dgc at cox.net>
>>We joke about this, but the reality is different.
>>At some point during the last ten years, most of us crossed a threshold.
>>Prior to the threshold, We did not have enough disk space or processing
>>power. We spent as much money on a computer as our comfort level
>>allowed, and it was not enough. Now, for most of us we have enough. When
>>is the last time you checked the percentage of usage of your disk? when
>>is the last time you thought "gee this operation is taking too long."
>>(not counting problems with viruses and malware.) Think back ten years.
>>One of the big deals then was figuring out which disk compression
>>software to use.
>>Most broadband providers have a cap at 2GB/month. A 1TB disk will hold
>>more than 2 years of downloads, at a current cost of about $1000. ($500
>>for the disks and $500 for the computer to hold the disks.) A 100TB disk
>>would hold 200 years of downloads at today's rates.
>>Assuming no monthly cap, look at it another way. An individual can
>>probably assimilate <1Mbps for < 8hours/day (average.) that's
>>(1Mb/8)*3600*8, or 3.6GB/day. That's 1TB/mo, or 100TB in 8 years.

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