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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

February, 2007

 

The Terabyte Telephone
By Michael Hart

By now you've all heard of the Apple iPhone, where RAM is an extra hundred dollars for an extra 4 gigabytes.
It would take 250 of those increments at $100 each to get to a terabyte, which would total $25,000. What I am pointing out here is that by 2020 you should be able to get a terabyte RAMstick at normal prices, and the RAM could be wrapped in the 2010 version of the iPhone, a device that will very likely be able to do everything our imaginations can muster today, including running outboard screens and keyboards that fit in your pocket, and expand or unroll to home computer sizes when you need them.
Of course, you can buy a terabyte of hard drive space now for not that much over $300, a fact which no one seems to want to take into account these days. However, since the average computer is well under $500 these days, you could easily add a terabyte, and soon even two terabytes, still remaining under the $1,000 barrier. This means you could store pretty much every word in The Library of Congress-- and still carry on your normal business.

That Is All In the Past and Present, Now for the Future 10 years from now, in 2017, telephones with a terabyte of memory will be becoming available.

By 2020 they will even be affordable to the middle class.


The Short History of Flash RAM
I got my first RAMstick, used, about the time Wikipedia's article says it first came out, so I've had it for years, perhaps as many as 6 years, but let's be conservative for the purposes of growth curve creation and say they became available in 2001 in the 32 megabyte increment I have.

This would yield the following past to present to future:

2001 = 32 megabytes
2006 = 32 gigabytes
2011 = 32 terabytes
However, I want to be even more conservative, so I double the number of years for doubling to:

2001 = 32 megabytes
2011 = 32 gigabytes
2021 = 32 terabytes
This leaves time for the initially inflated price level to come down to where real people might actually buy one.

Right now the 32 and 64 gigabyte RAMsticks, that came out in 2006, are still $5,000 for the 32 gig version, and who knows what for the 64's, the price still seems unstable-- please let me know if you get a firm one.

However, given the normal price reductions over the years which are well in advance of those Moore's Law predicted, we can expect real people to have 32 gigabyte RAMsticks a few years from their 2006 appearance, probably by 2010.

Thus we might be able to expect the 32 terabyte version a decade later, in 2020, even if growth slows down to half.

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