A professor Gene Spafford, from my alma mater publishes a blog related to information security. In a posting earlier this week he wrote:
Costs and capabilities of computing hardware have changed by a factor of tens of millions in five decades. Currently, transistors cost less than 1/7800 of a cent apiece in modern CPU chips (Intel Itanium). Assuming I didn’t drop a decimal place, that is a drop in price by 7 orders of magnitude. Ed Lazowska made a presentation a few years ago where he indicated that the number of grains of rice harvested worldwide in 2004 was ten quintillion – 10 raised to the 18th power. But in 2004, there were also ten quintillion transistors manufactured, and that number has increased faster than the rice harvest ever since. We have more transistors being produced and fielded each year than all the grains of rice harvested in all the countries of the world. Isn’t that amazing?