Remember when it was all about the megahertz? And then gigahertz were king? Remember when specs were really something worth getting excited over… at all? If you don’t, there’s a good reason: according to White House tech advisors, software, not hardware, has been driving computer innovation. Big time.
According to the federal report, advances on a standardised computing benchmark over the past 15 years have yielded an improvement of 43 million times its starting point. Responsible for that giant gain? Processor speed boosts, yes—by a factor of 1,000. But more importantly—way more importantly—were developments in software algorithms, which pushed the performance envelope by a factor of 43,000.
So what’s this indicate? Software is, more than ever, responsible for all the cool things we can do with our gadgets. And that we can do them fast as hell. Powerful hardware is indispensable, yeah, but the things we’re able to squeeze out of it is where the real heat is coming from. [NYT]