Using Moore’s Law to Predict Future Memory Trends

In 1965 Gordon Moore came out with a law that says that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every 18-24 months.  Here’s a graph that demonstrates the law that has held true for over 50 years and is estimated to continue until at least 2015-2020.


Similar laws that calculate technological trends…

Drawing from Moore’s law, Mark Kryder in 2005 said that areal storage density doubles annually, a phenomenon that had come to be known as Kryder’s Law. In 1990, my computer had 4mb RAM with a 80-megabyte hard drive with Adobe Photoshop 3.0 (among other apps) and had room to spare.


Nielsen’s law states that network connection speeds for high-end home users would increase 50% per year, or double every 21 months.

Butter’s Law of Photonics says that the amount of data coming out of an optical fiber is doubling every nine months and so the cost of it decreases by half in the same time as well.

Hendy’s law says that the number of pixels per dollar found in digital cameras will double every year.   Barry Hendy of Kodak Australia plotted “pixels per dollar” as a basic measure of value for a digital camera and demonstrated the historical linearity of the trend of LCD screens, LED screens and resolution.


So what will hard drive capacity be like in a decade?

We could use moore’s law to predict future trends.  The price of a 1-terabyte hard drive is $80 now, an improvement of 1 million times since the 40 megabyte drive of 1989, and 28 million times since IBM’S five-megabyte-drive in 1956 that cost $50,000.

In 2013, a 2TB drive will be $80.

In 2015, a 4TB drive will be $80.

After that the doubling rate may lengthen to 3 years instead of 2 years so..

In 2018, an 8TB drive will be $80.  And finally in 2021, for $80, you’d be able to buy a 16 terabyte hard drive..

What about RAM?

A single 8GB stick of RAM is about $80 right now. In 2021, you’d be able to buy a single stick of RAM that contains 64GB for the same price.

Bloat: The Great Moore’s Law Compensator aka Bloat

In 1995, Niklaus Wirth came out with Wirth’s law, a computing adage that says software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware becomes faster due to bloat.  A humorous variant came out of this called Gates’ Law, based on Bill Gates, due to Microsoft’s software getting more bloated year after year.

Gates law: The speed of commercial software slows down by half every 18 months, thereby negating the benefits of Moore’s law.  In 2008, Randal C. Kennedy, did performance tests between successive versions of Microsoft Office.  He found that Office 2007, on a modern computer, took twice as longer to perform the same tasks than a year-2000 equivalent computer with Office 2000.

I suppose if hard drive capacities didn’t increase, programmers would have been forced to code much more tightly and efficiently.  Luckily, we have gigantic, fast hard drives. :)