Moore’s Law

19 July 2018. Published by Benoît Labourdette.

An empirical law of computing that has more impact than we imagine on professional audiovisual practices.

Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore, a chemist by training, is one of the co-founders of the company Intel, manufacturing microprocessors that equip almost all our computers.

An empirical observation

In 1965 Gordon Moore made an empirical observation, which he made public and revised in 1975. Here is its 1975 version: Every two years, at equivalent cost price, the capacity of computer tools doubles

(mainly the power of microprocessors).

In reality Moore’s law applies well beyond microprocessors. For example, if you buy in 2018 for 100€ a hard disk with a capacity of 2TB, two years later, for $100 you will have a hard disk of 4TB. And two years later, 8TB, then 16TB, 32TB... it’s exponential.

So computing powers, processing speeds, storage capacities, connection speeds... all digital activities and tools follow the same logic of exponential quantitative evolution.

A “law” bigger than Moore says

Gordon Moore views his law from the perspective of economic competition. But Moore’s law is much broader, because this evolution has profound impacts on forms of production, communication and human activity in general. Even though it is possible, in technical terms, to qualify this law, even though some postulate that it has reached its end, the reality is that we are still and for a long time in an exponential rate of change in the capabilities of digital tools.

An impact for the audiovisual economy

The immediate corollary of Moore’s law is that the cost of storing a video file (shared on the web for example) is halved on average every two years. Thus the benefit of broadcasting a video on the web is theoretically multiplied by two every two years.

Many startups were built by anticipating their business plan according to Moore’s law. This is the case of YouTube (startup having opened in 2005, bought a year and a half later by Google): the price of selling advertising space associated with videos remains the same, but the cost of storage of each video is divided by two every two years, i.e. inexorably tends towards zero. Thus the profit can only grow, for an equivalent audience. But as Moore’s law also increases the capabilities of artificial intelligence, and therefore of better advertising targeting, the benefit, through cross synergies, can increase even more.

How to exploit Moore’s law at our “little” level

  • Computer backup : to preserve its digital heritage, its contents must be copied onto new media every 5 years. 5 years later, the new hard disks we buy will have largely doubled in capacity, so we don’t have to fear the multiplication of hard disks. Our backups will become easier and easier to perform. So let’s start a real wealth strategy now, we will have more and more means in the future.
  • Online Video: If you publish online videos on your own server, your storage cost will drop inexorably. Thus your catalogue will take a more and more important relative value. Do not hesitate to put your drawer bottoms online.
  • Improving camera image quality : the entire evolution of camera components, including the evolution of memory card speed, allows us to have an incredible and regular improvement in the technical quality of images. Let’s buy our cameras at the last moment, and prefer inexpensive tools, which we will update with new purchases as we go along.
  • Post-production online : it is Moore’s law that has made it possible to move from virtual editing offline (in reduced quality with the need for conformation at the end) to virtual editing online (direct work on images in final quality and faster distribution).
  • Generalization of very high quality image processing.
  • Democratization of slow motion.
  • Accessibility of computer-generated images.
  • Development of virtual reality and augmented reality.
  • Etc.

Adapt our professional practices

The knowledge of Moore’s law and its stakes allows you to be aware of rapid changes and to “connect” to them more quickly, because you are no longer surprised, you expected them.

Moore’s Law also allows you to anticipate tomorrow’s methodological and economic models in the design of your projects. Think “tomorrow’s technical capabilities” when designing your projects.

In short, Moore’s Law doesn’t allow you to predict the future, but almost!

I share here tools and technical methodologies that I have built for my professional activity. Some articles presuppose technical knowledge.