Enlighten Me: Why does computer technology advance so quickly?

Kodachrome

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 22, 2008
30
0
Pretty general question, but I've been pondering this recently. Why does computer technology update/advance so quickly? For example, a several years ago a 500GB hard drive was huuuuge - now its the norm. What advancements have they made? Are they able to engineer disks that can store more information into smaller spaces?
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
Pretty general question, but I've been pondering this recently. Why does computer technology update/advance so quickly? For example, a several years ago a 500GB hard drive was huuuuge - now its the norm. What advancements have they made? Are they able to engineer disks that can store more information into smaller spaces?
short answer is yes. Also techology advances exceptionally. I personally feel the reason this happens is as we make better technology it allows us to invent new stuff even faster. As one new inventions causes several more to be made. We more computer power we are able to do things that make things even tigher.

Hard drives will be climbing very quickly as they are changing the way they store data on them using virtical bits instead of horizontal which means a huge increase in storage space. We where pushing the theroicial max limits with the older tech.
 

localoid

macrumors 68020
Feb 20, 2007
2,447
1,733
America's Third World
Pretty general question, but I've been pondering this recently. Why does computer technology update/advance so quickly? For example, a several years ago a 500GB hard drive was huuuuge - now its the norm. What advancements have they made? Are they able to engineer disks that can store more information into smaller spaces?
This was probably before your time. The year was 1980. :)



10MB Hard Disk for $3,495
 

MasterNile

macrumors 65816
Apr 9, 2008
1,218
1
San Antonio, TX
I've got all episodes from the original series in itunes :) but some are not good quality, lol damn that technology advancing so quickly that videos from 20 years ago seem so low quality (like how I tied that into the main subject of the thread eh?)
 

mrfrosty

macrumors 6502a
Oct 1, 2005
500
21
Its the money train ! We don't need half this crap to browse the web, read email, or watch porn.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Jul 19, 2002
15,651
3
キャンプスワ&#
$3500??? Holy ****! That's more than a full Mac Pro!
How about these prices in 1993-4 timeframe:

- 32MB RAM --> $3,200

- 1GB HD (AV Spec) --> $1,200

If memory serves, these were the largest available at the time.

As to the OP's question about why technology is changing rapidly. Well, it is only going to get quicker. As computers become more adept at designing new computer components, the capabilities of new systems will reflect this.

Oh, and by the way, that 32MB SIMM that cost $3,200, well, you can get it in a used store for about $3-5 if you can find them. :)
 

Kodachrome

macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 22, 2008
30
0
sweet. I guess that makes sense. I'm excited for the future. A few weeks ago I was playing soccer and looked up and saw a DirectTV blimp with a huge video screen on the side - broadcasting a boxing match. That was the future right there.
 

iToaster

macrumors 68000
May 3, 2007
1,742
0
In front of my MacBook Pro
Well, just imagine in a relatively short time people will look back at the petty Mac Pro that could only handle 8 cores and 32 GB of RAM, god forbid they even think about those puny 1 TB hard drives or our low resolution 2560x1600 screens, all using those string-like plastic encased metal elements to communicate with each other very slowly and un-wirelessly, especially that big cord that goes into the wall that the computer won't turn on with out it being plugged in.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Jul 19, 2002
15,651
3
キャンプスワ&#
Well, just imagine in a relatively short time people will look back at the petty Mac Pro that could only handle 8 cores and 32 GB of RAM, god forbid they even think about those puny 1 TB hard drives or our low resolution 2560x1600 screens, all using those string-like plastic encased metal elements to communicate with each other very slowly and un-wirelessly, especially that big cord that goes into the wall that the computer won't turn on with out it being plugged in.
To add, they will also be astonished at the price we had to pay for what we got! :eek:

Can you imagine maxing out your RAM to 128MB, and have it cost you almost $13,000!

Currently you can configure a Mac Pro with 32GB of RAM for an extra $9,100 at Apple's prices.

The cost for 32GB RAM at the 128MB RAM price mentioned above would be $2,275,000. That's a 99.6% decrease in the price over 15 years.

Amazing.

Imagine 15 years from now. A 32GB DIMM will be like a 32MB SIMM is today. Most would be, like what is that? :eek:
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
50,798
34,322
The Far Horizon
This was probably before your time. The year was 1980. :)



10MB Hard Disk for $3,495
Fantastic picture and example, and a nice rather timely reminder of the way things were and of just how recently the revolutionary changes in life as a result of computing have occured. Actually, I remember when the IBM golfball electric typewriter was the latest and best piece of office equipment anyone could hope for (and how female secretarial staff would revert to their trusty IBMs when male technophile professors were away at conferences because they didn't trust the technology and could work better and faster on their IBMs). Likewise, I remember when the first 1GB computer I ever saw was proudly unveiled to awed amazement (in 1995) and was housed in a well-funded corner of linguistics, well away from where the rest of us toiled in the perennially under-funded humanities.

Seriously, though, each invention feeds others; as the broad "body of knowledge" increases, that, in turn, leads to further innovation and invention, a point already made by Rodimus Prime (I like the name, too). That is where the cycle is exponential. Of course, other factors allow that to happen, too, the existence of open societies, respect for knowledge, free movement of people, goods, ideas, services, capital, the laws that protect such, and so on. There are quite a number of places on earth where technological innovation on the lines of computer, IT, and the internet could never, ever, have evolved no matter what manner of resources were thrown at such a project.

We have had technical advances such as this before - ones where the impact was revolutionary on the societies of the day - I'd argue the invention of moveable type and consequent development of the printing press had an explosive - indeed a revolutionary- effect on European society (and consequently, the rest of the world), every bit as extensive as modern IT technology has on our lives.

What is of equal interest is to look at technologies which have had a considerable impact on our lives, but which have not significantly developed much beyond the period of their invention and ask why this may have been so; (the obvious example here, is that of the internal combustion engine); of course, cars have evolved/developed hugely since Benz and Daimler refined the concept of the internal combustion engine, but the basics, the core operating principles, of the engine itself have not. Ditto the phonograph (aka the record-player/stereo), or the radio; the changes to design and function did not vary all that much over a century. Until the advent of portable telephones, the mobile, telephone technology had remained fairly static for around a century, too.
Cheers.
 

DigiCatRedux

macrumors member
Aug 25, 2008
98
0
Somewhere in New England, USA.
Consumer Demand?

But seriously, it's a market driven by technological advancements- better hardware allows for more complex software, which fuels the need for better hardware, etc.. etc..
There's also a multitude of "spin-off" technologies from the computer marketplace that make it into other consumer products every year which also drives advancements. Right now we have Cars with built-in Hard drives and iPod connections and bluetooth links, courtesy of iPods and PDA's and Cellphones - all of which have gotten smaller, faster, more complex over the years because of technology companies trying to out-do one another in the bid to introduce the next step in High-Tech, or come out with the next "big thing" that'll cause consumers to depart from their hard earned dollars.

Because computerization has become prevalent in almost every form of industry or occupation (medicine, automotive, entertainment, design, etc.) there is a continual push on the whole for better, faster and cheaper hardware and software across the board. This leads to advancements, new ways of thinking and utilizing computer technology in different ways on an almost daily basis.
Which of course, spurs the need to further advance and see just how far we can push a binary bit around.

Even "bits" themselves are being challenged as a future computing medium - quantum processors using "qubits" to perform calculations are still a ways off - but whenever that technology arrives to the consumer level, I don't suppose anybody is going to say "Well, that's enough - we really don't need to push the boundarys any further..."
 

wilmor42

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2005
140
0
UK
Pretty general question, but I've been pondering this recently. Why does computer technology update/advance so quickly? For example, a several years ago a 500GB hard drive was huuuuge - now its the norm. What advancements have they made? Are they able to engineer disks that can store more information into smaller spaces?
because it has to.. it has to please and attract the consumer.. and why wouldnt it.. and as far as advancements, deep breath: where have you been for the last 5 years?
 

cube

Suspended
May 10, 2004
16,983
4,965
It's not advancing quickly. CPU clock rates all but stalled and there's no practical way to write common software for current multicore CPUs (ie, without auto-threading support).
 

r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
15,011
35
Texas
It's not advancing quickly. CPU clock rates all but stalled and there's no practical way to write common software for current multicore CPUs (ie, without auto-threading support).
So CPU clock speeds aren't going up anymore, big deal. They're making the processor smaller and more energy efficient, so you can fit more into the same space as before.

Take a look at some of the other things, 1TB drives were practically unheard of a few years ago, and now they have become pretty common.
 

cube

Suspended
May 10, 2004
16,983
4,965
So CPU clock speeds aren't going up anymore, big deal. They're making the processor smaller and more energy efficient, so you can fit more into the same space as before.
And what do you do with your common apps? They get slower as they and the system becomes more complex. All those additional cores only get used by multimedia and the like.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
50,798
34,322
The Far Horizon
It's not advancing quickly. CPU clock rates all but stalled and there's no practical way to write common software for current multicore CPUs (ie, without auto-threading support).
Yes, fascinating. I had wondered where the "bottleneck", or natural limit in technology would initially come from; how do any of you see the CPU speeds issue being addressed? Or is this a relatively permanent bottle neck, which will require development in other areas?

So CPU clock speeds aren't going up anymore, big deal. They're making the processor smaller and more energy efficient, so you can fit more into the same space as before.

Take a look at some of the other things, 1TB drives were practically unheard of a few years ago, and now they have become pretty common.
Excellent example, and interesting point. Where else do you see changes developing or evolving? Or, put another way, (and echoing a point I posted earlier about technological inventions which didn't alter much for nearly a century, such as the internal combustion engine), where do any of you see future bottle-necks, or impasses in the development or evolution of computer technology? Cheers.
 

tdhurst

macrumors 601
Dec 27, 2003
4,247
334
Phoenix, AZ
What?

Pretty general question, but I've been pondering this recently. Why does computer technology update/advance so quickly? For example, a several years ago a 500GB hard drive was huuuuge - now its the norm. What advancements have they made? Are they able to engineer disks that can store more information into smaller spaces?
Are you really asking this question?
 

r.j.s

Moderator emeritus
Mar 7, 2007
15,011
35
Texas
And what do you do with your common apps? They get slower as they and the system becomes more complex. All those additional cores only get used by multimedia and the like.
Define common apps.

For me, none get slower. As things do get more complex, high quality video, HD audio, flash everywhere, etc., the relative speed remains the same. Think about this - a few years ago, good digital video quality on a home computer was 320x240, now we're getting into HD.

So, no, the common apps don't get slower, they do get more complex - because they can do SOOO much more than they could have years ago.
 
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