8.31.2004

 

More examples of Moore's Law

Many examples of Moore's Law this week:The last one is interesting. It echoes the "workstation boom" in the 1980s, when players like Sun, Apollo, DEC, IBM, etc. battled it out for the scientific desktop with UNIX workstations.

This machine is not quite as impressive as it sounds at first. According to this page, an Efficeon is only about one-quarter as fast as a Pentium. So this machine might "only" be as powerful as a 20- or 25-Pentium workstation. The reason for using the Efficeon, despite its relative slowness, is its low wattage per calculation. If you put 25 Pentiums in a box, they would consume 3,000 or 4,000 watts -- it would blast you out of your office with the heat, and you would need to run a special 30-amp circuit to plug it in. For comparison, a typical electric clothes dryer uses 4,000 watts. By using Efficeon chips, at 8 watts per chip, the whole machine uses "only" as much power as a blow drier.

The thing that is interesting about this machine is the amount of horsepower it makes available in an "off-the-shelf" package. If history repeats itself, then in ten years this is the horsepower that a "normal" $500 desktop machine will have available. Along with many terabytes of storage space.

See Robotic Nation for details.

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