Small Computer, Big Opportunity: The Moore’s Law Phenomenon
If you’re like me, you probably remember the days when computers meant oversized monitors, loud, humming power supplies, and more cables than you knew what to do with. Thanks to Moore’s Law, those days are long gone. With devices getting less costly, smaller, and capable of more efficient computing power, people and businesses of today and tomorrow have more opportunity to connect to the Internet of Everything (IoE).
Take the Raspberry Pi, for example. This low-cost computer was developed to provide computer science learning experiences for children around the world. For $35, the device features USB ports for a keyboard and mouse and an HDMI port to hook up to a monitor. The Raspberry Pi Foundation officially launched the device in February 2012. By September, more than half a million had been sold, and thousands were being manufactured each day, making computing accessible to everyone.
But even more interesting, when the Raspberry Pi went on sale, hackers and experimenters ordered them by the handful to create special purpose applications. They dedicated a whole low-cost computer to the task and moved the computing function to the edge of the network, shifting how we solve the computing problem. So again, we now have another Moore’s Law phenomena. As computers get smaller, more energy efficient, and less expensive, it causes us to rethink where we put the computing in the network and whether it is centralized or at the edge. Moore’s Law enables this natural progression, allowing us to recentralize through the web and distribute through the cloud.
The Nest Thermostat demonstrates a great example of this. Through a combination of sensors, algorithms, machine learning, and cloud computing, Nest learns behaviors and preferences and begins to adjust the temperature up or down. It can be controlled from your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and it starts to recognize your preferences, automatically adjusting faster and faster and becoming more and more efficient. You have an entire computer (thermostat) on the wall, a classic convergence of more and more things being connected.
This, in turn, changes what’s happening in the data center and the cloud, because having more entry points enables us to connect more things. Sensor technology is also being affected, becoming smaller and less expensive. Texas Instruments now makes a chip that runs an IPv6 stack for connectivity, has built-in wireless, and only costs ninety-nine cents. Moore’s Law has led to a low-powered, low-cost chip, giving us yet another opportunity to rethink and innovate the use of computing.
With these growing ubiquitous opportunities, we can connect more and learn more. As more devices are added to the network, the power and potential for what they will make possible will continue to grow exponentially. Anything you can measure will be measured. Anything you can sense will be sensed. It’s an economical model making the case to be measured for nearly no cost. This shift will help connect the 99 percent of things that are still unconnected in the world, creating real value for the IoE.
How will the amazing possibilities enabled by the IoE affect you? I’d love to know your thoughts. Send me a tweet @JimGrubb.