Moore’s Law

Moore’s Law states that the transistor density of semiconductor chips would double roughly every 18 months. Another formulation of this law says that RAM storage capacity increases at about the same rate as processing power.

I mention this because I got some additional RAM for my work laptop today bringing my total RAM capacity to 2 GB. Now 2 GB is a lot of RAM for a laptop, but I do a good deal of Visual Studio development. However, when the RAM was installed this morning, it got me thinking about Moore’s law, and a real-world example.

I’ve been at my job ever since graduating college in 1994. When I got here, the first computer I was given had 16 MB of RAM and has steadily increased ever since then. Today, nearly 12 years later, my computer as 2 GB of RAM. To keep everything in the same units, let’s call 2 GB the equivalent of 2000 MB of RAM.

It is easy to compute that 2000 MB of RAM is 125 time greater than 16 MB. So in 12 yeras, the amount of RAM I use as increase 125-fold.

Moore’s Law states a doubling of RAM every 18 months. In 12 years, there are (12 x 12)/18 = 8 sets of 18 months. This means my RAM should have doubled 8 times since I’ve started here. Starting with 16 MB and doubling 8 times would result in roughly 4000 MB of RAM. In actuality, I now have 2000 MB of RAM which is the equivalent of 7 doublings instead of 8.

What this says is that RAM has not quite kept up with Moore’s Law, at least in the case of my computing history at work.

I know this probably doesn’t mean anything to most people, but I find this kind of stuff fascinating.