the other Moore’s Laws
Moore’s Law refers to the number of transistors that can be crammed onto a chip, but lots of other trends show a similar exponential increase, and similarly the occasional decrease.
Comparing the speed of processors is tricky but memory chips are easy to quantify. Intel’s first ever product, the 3101 RAM chip, had a capacity of 64 bits back in 1969, while today’s largest chips have a capacity of 16 Gbits. That equates to 28 doublings, which works out at a doubling every 1.75 years. Turning to an exponential decrease, we only have to look at the price per transistor. The 2,300-transistor 4004 cost $200, which is a touch under 10 cents each, in 1971.
Let’s stick with dollar pricing so we don’t get embroiled in exchange-rate fluctuations, and pick a product costing much the same today. If we assume the Intel Core i5-8400 has 2 billion transistors, that works out at 0.00001 cents each. When we remove the effects of inflation to give a real terms comparison, the price has halved every 2.75 years.