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Startling development of computers storage and microprocessors

posted Nov 3, 2010, 10:09 PM by Francois Tricot   [ updated Feb 21, 2011, 8:41 AM ]
In 1956, 5 Megabytes of storage were as big as the container we see in this picture, which I received from Jacques yesterday.

One byte is a piece of digital memory able to have 256 different states. It can be represented as a number between 0 and 255.
One byte is enough to encode one letter or number or special character.
One Kilobyte is enough to store one A4 page of text, approximately a thousand signs.
One Megabyte is enough to store a 1000 pages book.

In 1956, IBM was able to store approximately 5 books in a memory that was about 1 tonne.

In 2010, a SD Card (for MP3 players, cameras...) which physical size is 24x32x2.1 millimeters can hold up to 32 Gigabytes of data, which are 32000 Megabytes, approximately enough to store 32000 full books. A hard disk drive of 1 Terabytes is 3.5 inches and can store up to 1 billion text pages.

32 GB SD Cards and 1 TB hard drives are sold a little bit more than 50 Euros.

The cost of storing 1 page of paper in a magnetic storage - 1 kilobytes moved from:
  • 2500 Euros in 1956
  • 2 Euros in 1980
  • 2,0 × 10-4 Euros in 1995
  • 1,0 × 10-7 Euros nowdays
It is now more than 15 years that it cost less to store text digitally than on paper !

The story is very similar for microprocessors. For the same price, the performance of microprocessors doubles every 2 years as predicted by Gordon Moore.

With such changes, the business model of IT industry needs to completely re-think itself every 10 years. And this is what happened : initially, IBM was selling hardware and giving software for free - a sales person had to sell one computer per year to reach the sales target -, then hardware became so cheap that we started to see people selling software and giving hardware for free. Nowadays, we tend to rent the use of software and hardware through the Internet. IBM, more than 400000 employees nowadays, was mainly selling hardware in the 80's and transformed itself to become an IT integrator selling services in less than 10 years !

For the content industry (media, music, movies, radio, TV...) it took less than 30 years to come from a all-analog to a all-digital world

Smaller, faster, cheaper ! With the digitalization of all contents, from text to images and videos, and the uniformization of networks to only one big network which is the Internet, this ended to decrease drastically the cost of digital collaboration.

Productivity of collaboration leads to quicker innovation, reduced time-to-market, increased speed to go from idea to implementation. Digital collaboration is a good part of collaboration. That's why we are Rethinking the shape of everyday collaboration within Ceva.