Computers in 2027


We all remember how fast computers were 15 years ago, right?  What might they be like in 15 years time?  I’ll take a stab at predicting it and what it means for programmers.

15 or more years ago I used a monster of a PC.  A Pentium Pro at 200Mhz with 384MB of RAM.

Could we, 15 years ago, have predicted the computers of today?  That’s like asking if we can predict the computers in 15 years time only with hindsight :)

Could we have predicted that machines now would be faster than 3Ghz?  That entry laptops have 4GB of RAM and the servers 96GB?  Probably; we had Moores Law, after all.  We are just predicting more of the same only more of it.

Other parts of the puzzle are only slightly bigger jumps.  The multi-core is not so hard to imagine; its even easy to understand why, when you can’t scale up, you’d have to scale out.  

Slightly harder to imagine predicting is how complete x86 (and its 64bit rebirth) dominates while 15 years ago the Sparc was exciting.  Could you have predicted GPGPUs?  Perhaps harder; perhaps they aren’t exactly mainstream useful though.  ‘Vector processors’ were the high-end 15 years ago too.

The only thing that’s much the same is disk speed.  Disk isn’t much faster now.  Did we imagine faster disks?  Yes we did.  We’d have imagined them keeping up.  But in a way storage is faster today; its called SSDs and maybe if we’re lenient we can imagine that in just a couple of years it’ll be mainstream in platter-sized quantities?  Therefore, again, storage is perhaps predictable even if its solved using new technology.

Still, I think you could have seen it all, roughly, if you’re counting bogomips.  (Fun fact: I acquired the bogomips user account name on sourceforge.  Don’t use it for much but it does sound cool.)

I wonder perhaps if you’d said it like it turned out to be you’d have been a bit underwhelmed.  Perhaps we hoped more of progress?

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8:24am | author: