Moore’s law: Christmas PC 2004

Moore’s Law in the strict sense states that

The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year.

In the broadest sense, it can be used to say any computer hardware grows exponentially at some rate (As Moore said: “if Gore invented the Internet, I invented the exponential”). It seems to be true for CPU speed, hard disk capacity, network bandwidth, RAM size … With some imagination it could even be true for laptop batteries: they double capacity every couple of decades (if we’re lucky). Eventhough some claim Moore’s Law is no longer valid, let’s just assume it still is.

In an effort to keep track of the effect of Moore’s law on our own desktop, I will list the typical 2004 Christmas computer. The computer we are talking about is not a budget PC (you can get a Celeron-based PC for less than 700€) nor a nec-plus-ultra workstation with SCSI disks, 2 Itanium processors and 4GB of RAM. It’s rather what would be listed as a ‘performance’ PC. Spending 1500€ (about $2000) this Christmas would get you:

  • Intel Pentium 4 3.2 GHz or Athlon 3200+
  • 512 MB RAM (e.g. DDR PC3200)
  • 128MB or 256MB graphical card (e.g. ATI Radeon X600, nVidia GeForce 6800)
  • 160GB S-ATA hard disk with 8MB buffer (e.g. Maxtor Pax Plus 9)
  • CD/DVD writer
  • 6 USB 2.0, 1 FireWire
  • 5.1 sound card
  • 7-in-1 memory card reader
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 350 watt power supply
  • 17″ LCD monitor (1280×1024)
  • Windows XP Home
  • Wireless optical keyboard + mouse

(from Dec 2004)

Blast from the past: 3 years ago (Jan 2002) a ‘performance’ PC was more like 2000€ and looked like this:

  • Pentium 4 2GHz (17% increase per year)
  • 256MB RAM (25% increase per year)
  • 64MB graphical card (25% increase per year)
  • 60GB hard disk (40% increase per year)
  • a 56K/V92 modem (!)
  • 100Mbps Ethernet (these things go in steps of 10X)
  • Keyboard + mouse with(!) scroll-button
  • 17″ CRT monitor (same size, only now they’re thinner)
  • Windows XP Home (yes, it’s that old!)

(from Jan 2002)
If anyone can come up with numbers for Christmas 1998, that would be great!)

So let’s see what Santa brings us for Christmas 2005!

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