The Exponential Growth of Technology

Bought a new PC in 2015? Throw it away. Bought a TV last year? Now it’s obsolete. This is the messaging we are hearing all the time. First it was 720p, then it was HD now its OLED and UHD. There were single core processors then dual-core and now the standard is six cores or more in processing power for your computer, but where does it end? When should you buy the new PC with the latest processor?

Trying to keep up on the latest industry trends in the tech world is akin to watching human evolution occur over the course of days instead of millennia, in that it is moving so fast you hardly notice the changes. The rapid rate of change from the 70’s when the first personal computers started hitting the market through the early part of this decade were astronomical. We went from flip phones to pocket PCs over the course of a year and the advancements, while seemingly incremental, were happening at an unprecedented pace.

You often hear the term exponential growth in technology, but have you ever stopped to think about what that means in terms of how it is evolving and what that means to consumers? Let’s look at Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law is a theory developed in 1965 by Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, which refers to the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubling every 2 years. In a nutshell this simply means that processor power and performance were essentially doubling every two years or eighteen months depending on who you are talking to by way of the shrinking of silicon transistors allowing us to add more to each chip. This ‘law’ held true for a number of years until very recently. The current observations are that the numbers of these transistors we can fit on to processors is beginning to slow and current thoughts are that we are only going to see the size of them shrinking for the next five years or so.

Intel has said they are now spreading out the time between new processor iterations giving those consumers who want the latest and greatest a reprieve from making a purchase every 18 months. This will undoubtedly send companies like Microsoft and Intel to pursue further innovation in the market which will be required as companies that produce applications that rely on supercomputers, such as weather modeling software, will continue to demand increases in processing power.

The producers of applications that rely on the processor innovation may suffer the most as they are developing their product around the guarantees of processor power increases. In time these will be resolved through collaboration between tech giants, but for now the consumer will get some downtime between updates in home PC speeds.