Article after study after market analysis after global consumption report show that the IoT and connected device markets are growing at an increasingly rapid clip. It’s no longer fantasy to command a toilet to lower the mood lighting, read global news on a bathroom mirror, or expect that highway signs will auto-update based on traffic conditions with a clever phrase reminding motorists to slow down and buckle up. IoT technologies are both the weft and warp in the fabric of society; a massive portion of humanity’s basic infrastructure (power delivery, water monitoring and distribution, emergency medical services and dispatch, etc.) is dependent on the functionality of connected systems and services. Aside from the Orwellian implications of this permeation and the uncharted fields of data security that this widespread adoption opens for both the black and white-hat hackers of the world, the benefits of IoT adoption are tangible and impactful. Even to the well-trained eye, it seems like a lot of this explosive expansion spontaneously grew from a slow trickle to a roaring rapid. Why?


ColossusThe first two digital computers were both products of the WWII arms race. ENIAC, a room-sized computing array of the US Army Ballistic Research Laboratory, was built ostensibly to run feasibility simulations of thermonuclear detonation and to calculate ballistics trajectories. Colossus, a British-made codebreaker, was created to break the infamous Lorenz cypher (an aside: this is an in-browser digital replica of the Colossus) used by the German High Command for encryption of Ultra-level top secret information. Like ENIAC, Colossus was also room-sized and therefore rather aptly named. When running very simple calculations involving ten digit numbers, ENIAC warped time and space at a blazing processor speed of 5kHz; processor speed dropped to 35Hz when performing division or square root operations.

A mere 74 years later the iPhone 8, 2018’s top selling pocket-sized smartphone, clocks in 2.39 GHz or 478,000 times as fast the entire processing array of ENIAC on its best day.

While this is not what Moore’s Law explicitly describes, physical processor dimension is inversely correlated to transistor density. At the same time, processing requirements and speed expectations of the average user have not scaled at the same rate as processing capacity so systems integrators can develop physically smaller chips while increasing processing speed at a rate that exceeds market expectations. State of the art processors found in high-end desktop computers and smartphones now have transistors spaced a mere 8 nanometers apart from one another or about 1,800 times smaller than the finest human hair. Astounding.


Sometimes someone else already said it much better:

Date Approximate cost per GFLOPS Approximate cost per GFLOPS (2018 US dollars)[54] Approximate cost per TFLOPS (2017 US dollars) Platform providing the lowest cost per GFLOPS Comments
1961 $18.7 billion $156.8 billion $156.8 trillion About 2400 IBM 7030 Stretchsupercomputers costing $7.78 million each The IBM 7030 Stretch performs one floating-point multiply every 2.4 microseconds.[55]
1984 $18,750,000 $45,220,000 $44.2 billion Cray X-MP/48 $15,000,000 / 0.8 GFLOPS
1997 $30,000 $47,000 $46,000,000 Two 16-processor Beowulf clusters with Pentium Pro microprocessors[56]
April 2000 $1,000 $1,480 $1,440,000 Bunyip Beowulf cluster Bunyip was the first sub-US$1/MFLOPS computing technology. It won the Gordon Bell Prize in 2000.
May 2000 $640 $944 $922,000 KLAT2 KLAT2 was the first computing technology which scaled to large applications while staying under US-$1/MFLOPS.[57]
August 2003 $82 $112 $109,000 KASY0 KASY0 was the first sub-US$100/GFLOPS computing technology.[58]
August 2007 $48 $58 $57,000 Microwulf As of August 2007, this 26.25 GFLOPS “personal” Beowulf cluster can be built for $1256.[59]
March 2011 $1.80 $2.03 $1,980 HPU4Science This $30,000 cluster was built using only commercially available “gamer” grade hardware.[60]
August 2012 $0.75 $0.82 $800 Quad AMD Radeon 7970 GHz System A quad AMD Radeon 7970 desktop computer reaching 16 TFLOPS of single-precision, 4 TFLOPS of double-precision computing performance. Total system cost was $3000; Built using only commercially available hardware.[61]
June 2013 $0.22 $0.24 $230 Sony PlayStation 4 The Sony PlayStation 4 is listed as having a peak performance of 1.84 TFLOPS, at a price of $400[62]
November 2013 $0.16 $0.17 $170 AMD Sempron 145 & GeForce GTX 760 System Built using commercially available parts, a system using one AMD Sempron 145 and three Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 reaches a total of 6.771 TFLOPS for a total cost of $1090.66.[63]
December 2013 $0.12 $0.13 $130 Pentium G550 & Radeon R9 290 System Built using commercially available parts. Intel Pentium G550 and AMD Radeon R9 290 tops out at 4.848 TFLOPS grand total of US$681.84.[64]
January 2015 $0.08 $0.08 $80 Celeron G1830 & Radeon R9 295X2 System Built using commercially available parts. Intel Celeron G1830 and AMD Radeon R9 295X2 tops out at over 11.5 TFLOPS at a grand total of US$902.57.[65][66]
June 2017 $0.06 $0.06 $60 AMD Ryzen 7 1700 & AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Built using commercially available parts. AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU combined with AMD Radeon Vega FE cards in CrossFire tops out at over 50 TFLOPS at just under US$3,000 for the complete system.[67]
October 2017 $0.03 $0.03 $30 Intel Celeron G3930 & AMD RX Vega 64 Built using commercially available parts. Three AMD RX Vega 64 graphics cards provide just over 75 TFLOPS half precision (38 TFLOPS SP or 2.6 TFLOPS DP when combined with the CPU) at ~$2,050 for the complete system.[68]

Or if you prefer, tldr;

The cost of a standard unit of processing has decreased by a factor of 68x over the past decade alone.


Deloitte conducted a study on global mobile consumer trends and discovered that 8 out of every 10 people in the developed world owns and uses a smartphone regularly while nine out of every ten people in those same countries owns a smartphone or a budget-friendly feature phone. To put this in perspective: the iPhone- the first commercially successful smartphone as we know them today- was launched only eleven years ago in 2007. Ericsson, the mobile connectivity and networking company, counted 5.1 billion smartphone subscriptions globally and projects that number will grow to 7.2 billion by 2024; if these numbers hold true, just under 90% of the world will be connected by smartphone within 5 years.

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