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The Global Superorganism or One Machine

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Transistors from Computer cards as used in the...
Image via Wikipedia

Here are the illuminating thoughts of Kevin Kelly on this global factoid:

What are the dimensions of this global Machine?

Barilan Internet-Thumb

Today it contains approximately 1.2 billion personal computers,  2.7 billion cell phones, 1.3 billion land phones, 27 million data servers, and 80 million wireless PDAs. The processor chips of all these parts are feeding the computation of the internet/web/telecommunications system. So how many transistors are powering the Machine?

An Intel Pentium processor circa 2004 has 100 million transistors in it, while a Itanium processor inside a server has over 1 billion processors since 2005. More current models have more transistors of course, but these older models would be closer to an average count.

One thing to note is that there are just as many processing chips in the Machine (one billion from the one billion online PCs) as there transitors in an Itanium chip. The Machine is a super computer where each “transistor” is computer.  A very rough estimate of the computing power of this Machine then is that it contains a billion times a billion, or one quintillion (10 ^ 18) transistors. Since only the newest servers have a billion processors, the figure is probably an order of magnitude smaller. When we add the transistors for cell phones, handhelds, it calculates out to about 170 quadrillion (10^17) transistors wired into the Machine

There are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain. Today the Machine has as 5 orders more transistors than you have neurons in your head. And the Machine, unlike your brain, is doubling in power every couple of years at the minimum.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/10/06 at 18:49

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