In The Rise of “Freeconomics”, Chris Anderson at The Long Tail claims that we have recently passed a milestone: 20,000 MIPS of processing power for $200, or a penny-per-MIPS. He goes on to argue that when technology becomes cheap enough to be effectively free, it radically changes how we use those resources.
Of course, the cheapest computer still cost real money. And even though that 20 GIPS claim is a bit suspect, it’s clear that processing power has increased dramatically in the past few decades. Alec Saunders tries to give some context in When MIPS are free:
- In 1977, Digital Equipmentâ€™s Vax 11/780 was a 1 MIPS minicomputer, and the Cray-1 supercomputer delivered blindingly fast execution at 150 MIPS.
- By 1982, 5 years later, a 6 Mhz 286 had about the same equivalent processing power as the Vax.
- Sometime in the mid 1990â€™s, Crayâ€™s benchmark was finally passed on PowerPC processors, as PowerMacâ€™s emerged benchmarked at 150 to 300 MIPS.
- A 1999 era Pentium III/500 delivered 800 MIPS of processing power.
- A year later, in 2000, the Playstation 2 pumped out an astounding 6000 MIPS.
- My 2002 vintage Athlon XP clocks in at 4200 MIPS.
- And today, for about $200, you can buy a 20,000 MIPS processor.