Moore's Law

The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year. Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years.

-- Gordon Moore, 1965

It’s fairly commonplace to observe that the average smartphone today is more powerful than even the most expensive computers 50 years ago. Moore’s Law is responsible for this curious state of affairs: computers become exponentially more powerful over the years, and the cost of computing falls over time commensurately. Similar trajectories exist in the cost of data storage, so that the storage available on cheap devices today exceeds by orders of magnitude the storage available on high-end work stations twenty years ago. An unfortunate corollary, known as Moore’s second law or Rock’s Law, is that the cost of research and development to achieve this exponential growth moves in the opposite direction. Possibly as a consequence, many have speculated that Moore’s Law no longer applies, with potentially wide-ranging consequences for software but also for the economy at large.