Hardware Progress: $397 (fwd)
bob at drzyzgula.org
Wed Mar 27 15:45:44 PST 2002
A couple of years ago I stared at Intel's historical price
and performance numbers numbers until I started to hallucinate
and believe that I saw some patterns there. I did a few
calculations, some of which many of y'all might find
interesting. I put it up at
A couple of notes:
* I pretty much just use an arbitrary 18-month Moore's
Law doubling time without much comment. However, I had
sufficient data to float this doubling rate and have the
least squares pick it for each pricing level from $150
to $800. When I did this, the doubling period was more
like, IIRC, 15-17 months. Interestingly, although not
surprisingly, the doubling period was shorter for less
expensive processors. As a result, the model showed
faster (in the SPECint sense) processors ultimately
being less expensive than slower processors. To some
extent, this makes some sense in that really expensive
x86 processors tend to have larger caches which drive
up the price without adding to CPU speed. This doubling
skew was a hassle for the rest of the paper, however,
so I fixed it a single value across all pricing levels.
I tried a 16 month period, but it didn't change the result,
so I went back to 18 months because the economists I
was trying to reach were more familiar with the 18 month
* I wrote this paper for internal use at my office.
Although it's not sensitive or anything, I probably
would have done a bit better job with references and
such if I had planned on publishing it. A large portion
of the data was collected by Micro Design Resources
and/or the SPEC consortium. I supplemented this through
other numbers I pulled off the web from things like
the Chip Directory and Intel's press releases. This
all should have been credited.
* Internally, I had an appendix that contained all the
numbers and the Octave program I used to do the
calculations. This appendix isn't available because much
of the data collection is copyrighted. However, if anyone
is really interested in playing with it -- or especially
updating it -- let me know and I'll see what I can do.
* I'm not a statistician. This isn't my area of expertise,
so there could be some egregious errors. I had some
real statisticians read it, though, and they didn't
barf or anything. Still, if anyone spots anything
suspicious feel free to let me know.
On Wed, Mar 27, 2002 at 05:20:54PM -0500, Robert G. Brown wrote:
> > I would think a cost reduction by 2-5x maximum
> > in 2006.
> More practically, microprocessor manufacturers and other tech component
> manufacturers don't generally focus on reducing consumer costs, they
> focus on increasing speed (and other overall performance measures) at
> constant consumer cost and relatively high margins. They can do this
> because tech profit margins depend to a significant extent on demand in
> a fairly inelastic market with very limited competition.
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