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Visualizing the Trillion-Fold Increase in Computing Power

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On July 20, 1969, millions of people received an inspirational jolt from watching two brave astronauts take humankind’s first steps on the moon. Rightly so, those astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, are now household names to many – however, their Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) remains the unsung hero that made their moon landing possible in the first place.

With processing power equivalent to a pair of Nintendo consoles, the AGC wasn’t flashy. But despite its technical limitations, the AGC functioned admirably as the interface for guidance, navigation, and control of the spacecraft to get humans to their first lunar destination.

To Infinity and Beyond?

If a pair of Nintendo consoles can get us to the moon, there’s no telling what the future may hold as computing power continues to grow.

Today’s infographic comes to us from Experts Exchange, and it visualizes the 1 trillion-fold increase in computing performance from 1956 to 2015.

Visualizing the Trillion-Fold Increase in Computing Power

The Incredible Shrinking Hard Disk

In the 1970s, data storage equipment was serious business. The IBM 305 RAMAC, for example, weighed a ton and measured 16 square feet. The RAMAC’s storage capacity? Just 5MB.

Thankfully, hard disks are no longer the size of filing cabinets. The animation below visualizes just how compact terabytes of storage have become.

Hard Drive Disc Comparison

Computing in the Real World

A relatable touchpoint for many people will be ever-changing graphics quality of video games.

The journey from Atari’s pixelated stick figures to today’s crisp, hyper-realistic graphics is a surprisingly good visual aid to help us understand increases in computing power over many years.

NHL EA Sports Graphics

The journey from Pong to Call of Duty is inexorably linked to processing power. As the comprehensive list below demonstrates, modern gaming systems are so powerful that even the revolutionary Xbox 360 now looks quaint in comparison.

YEARMFLOPSCONSOLE
19760Fairchild Channel F (Pong)
19770Atari 2600
19830NES
19860Atari 7800
19880Sega Genesis
19900SNES
19910Sega CD
19940Sony PlayStation
19940Sega Saturn
1996200Nintendo 64
20006,200Sony PlayStation 2
2005240,000Xbox 360
2006459,200Sony PlayStation 3
20131,228,800Xbox One
20131,843,200Sony PlayStation 4

Our ExaFLOP Future

Though performance drivers are flattening out, supercomputing continues to hit new milestones. The next one on the list is exascale computing – and at that level, machines will be capable of a million-trillion calculations a second.

Why do we even need computers that powerful? For one, some of the biggest challenges facing humankind are extremely complicated, and we just don’t have the computing power to tackle them as effectively as we could. Two relevant examples are climate modeling and life sciences.

All these advances are pushing us closer to a major symbolic milestone: computers as powerful and complex as the human brain.

Computer Brain Exascale

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Chart of the Week

The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Which innovations will dominate headlines in 2019? According to Bill Gates, watch for these 10 breakthrough technologies to change the world.

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The 10 Breakthrough Technologies That Will Define 2019

Gone are the days of turning stones into spears. With the advent of new technologies, we’ve learned to develop tools that not only make living faster and easier every day, but also improve the future of humanity as a whole.

Today’s Chart of the Week draws from the MIT Technology Review, which features Bill Gates’ predictions for the top 10 breakthrough inventions that will capture headlines in 2019.

Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies

1. Gut Probe in a Pill
These swallowable devices can detect and potentially prevent diseases that cause malnutrition and stunted growth in millions of children worldwide.

2. Custom Cancer Vaccines
Personalized cancer vaccines, targeting only the cancerous cells and leave healthy cells alone, could help ensure faster recovery times and pose fewer risks to patients.

3. Meat-free Burgers
Plant-based and lab-grown food products will ideally alleviate the environmental impact of the livestock industry.

4. Smooth-talking AI assistants
The AI assistants of the future will have even more human-like conversations to personally engage customers. Companies would see measurable benefits, with just one breakthrough here garnering a 5% jump in productivity.

5. Sanitation without sewers
Improperly drained sewage causes death in one out of every nine children. Sanitation that doesn’t require sewers would not only prevent exposure diseases but also help turn waste into useful products like fertilizer.

6. ECG on your wrist
While most medical ECGS have up to 12 nodes to detect abnormalities, today’s wearables typically have only one. An ECG on the wrist would help reduce the risk of heart disease by monitoring changes and patterns in daily life.

7. Robot Dexterity
Advancements in robotics will enable the natural dexterity required to complete a greater range of tasks, such as helping an ailing loved one out of bed, doing the laundry, or building toys.

8. Predicting Preemies
Premature births are the leading cause of death for children under five years old. Tests to detect the possibility of a premature birth could be available in doctors’ offices in as little as five years.

9. Carbon Dioxide Catcher
Carbon dioxide catchers filter out CO₂ from the air and capture it for other uses. These include synthetic fuel creation, CO₂ for soft drinks, and plant growth in greenhouses.

10. New-wave Nuclear Power
Traditional nuclear reactors produce ~1,000 megawatts (MW), while these proposed mini-reactors would produce tens of megawatts ─ making them safer, more stable, and more financially viable for potential users.

A Vision for a Better Future

The biggest takeaway?

Seven of the 10 breakthrough technologies stem from the healthtech sector.

While several inventions on this list are years away from becoming a reality, they continue to embody the vision and passion that humans share to create and explore.

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Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry

In the digital age, the issue of trust is emerging as the game-changing factor in how consumers choose financial services brands.

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Visualizing the Importance of Trust to the Banking Industry

In the digital age, money is becoming less tangible.

Not only is carrying physical cash more of a rarity, but we are now able to even make contactless payments for many of the products and services we use on the fly.

Our financial transactions are starting to be analyzed and optimized by artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, investments and bills are paid online, and even checks can now be deposited through our phones. Who has the time to visit a physical bank these days, anyways?

Trust in the Digital Age

The migration of financial services to the cloud is increasing access to banking solutions, while breaking down barriers of entry to the industry. It’s also creating opportunities for new service offerings that can leverage technology, data, and scale.

However, as today’s infographic from Raconteur shows, this digital migration has a crucial side effect: trust in financial services has emerged as a dominant driver of consumer activity.

This likely boils down to a couple major factors:

  • Tangibility
    Financial services are becoming less grounded in physical experiences (using cash, visiting a branch, personal relationships, etc.)
  • Personal Data
    Consumers are rightfully concerned about how personal data gets treated in the digital age

Further, the above factors are compounded by memories of the 2008 Financial Crisis. These events not only damaged institutional reputations, but they elevated trust to become a key concern and selling point for consumers.

Trust, by the Numbers

In general, trust in banks has been slowly on the rise since hitting a low point in 2011 and 2012.

At the same time, consumers are consistently ranking trust as a more important factor in their decision of where to bank. To the modern consumer, trust even outweighs price.

Top Five Factors for Choosing a Bank:

  1. Ease and convenience of service (47%)
  2. Trust with the brand (45%)
  3. Price/rate (43%)
  4. Service resolution quality and timeliness (43%)
  5. Wide network coverage of ATMs (40%)

It’s important to recognize here that all five of the above factors rank quite closely in percentage terms. That said, while they are all crucial elements to a service offering, trust may be the most abstract one to try and tackle for companies in the space.

With this in mind, how can financial services leverage tech to increase the amount of trust that consumers have in them?

Tech Factors That Would Increase Consumer Trust:

  1. Reliable fraud protection (36%)
  2. Technology solves my problems (13%)
  3. Useful mobile application (9%)

Better fraud protection capability stands out as one major trust-builder, while designing technology that is useful and effective is another key area to consider.

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