3-D TV Moves Toward Reality

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3-D TV Moves Toward Reality

Everyone is familiar with Moore’s Law, the principle that states that computing power doubles every 18 months. Fewer people are aware of Bell’s Law, formulated by Gordon Bell, a former engineer at DEC and now a researcher at Microsoft.

Bell concludes that every decade, the price of processing power drops a hundredfold. As a result, a new, lower-priced “computer class” forms, based on a new programming platform, network, and interface, which leads to the creation of a whole new industry.

Bell’s Law explains why information technology has rapidly progressed: from the mainframes of the 1960s, to the minicomputers of the ‘70s, to the PCs and workstations enabled by Ethernet-based Local Area Networks in the ‘80s, to the Web browser client-server structure powered by the Internet in the ‘90s, and to the Web services and mobile computing devices that have emerged in this decade.

The important question is: What’s next? What will be the “computer class” of the next decade?

The answer: the remote data center, or information factory.

A remote data center creates economies of scale and scope by making the most efficient use of processing power, bandwidth, storage, location, and electricity.

As technology futurist George Gilder recently pointed out in a Wired magazine article,1 the costs of storing and transferring data are shrinking so rapidly that we are approaching one cent per gigabyte of storage, and pennies per gigabit per second of bandwidth. This price drop is fueled by exponential growth in available bandwidth. That growth means that your network connection will soon be faster than your CPU. When that happens, it no longer makes sense for people to own machines that do the processing themselves.

Google is building a massive server farm on 30 acres in a rural Oregon location called The Dalles. It will include tens of thousands of servers. The company already has more than 20 data centers around the world, with roughly half a million servers. All of this gives Google 200 petabytes of hard disk storage and four petabytes of RAM.

The prefix peta means “10 to the 15th power,” or 1 million billion. To put this in perspective, Gilder estimates that Google could copy everything on the Internet dozens of times.

Dr. Eric Schmidt, the chairman and CEO of Google, told Gilder that mainframes and client-server architecture have been replaced by “cloud computing.” As Schmidt explained, “In this architecture, the data is mostly resident on servers ‘somewhere on the Internet’ and the application runs on both the ‘cloud servers’ and the user’s browser...

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