Want to feel old?
If you’ve been around for a while, you remember way back to when Apple unveiled its first iPad. Glossy, white, and embossed with the famous logo, the iPad ushered in a new era of handheld devices capable, in many cases, of replacing computers.
That seems ages ago, from a different lifetime.
It was only 2010.
The last decade was a doozy in the technology world, marking innovations and milestones that changed most aspects of everyday life. Uber rolled out in 2012. The transportation landscape shifted dramatically again in 2018 as shareable e-scooters such as Lime and Bird sprouted and hatched across the world, adding new, affordable methods to get from point A to point B.
The Xbox One and PS4 both released in 2013, ushering in the new and current generation of gaming consoles. The Nintendo Switch followed in 2017, becoming the first console playable as a handheld device.
Those are only a few examples, but you get the idea. The hits kept coming, including many related to our core expertise here at Micron and Crucial: computer memory and storage. Here are a few highlights from the last decade that show just how much technology has changed in recent years and the extent to which those innovations have reshaped our lives.
RAM evolves twice
Computers don’t work without random access memory, or RAM. Your amount of RAM directly correlates to how much heavy lifting your computer can do. As such, each new generation of RAM represents a major jump for technology, enabling new waves of more demanding and complex programs to become mainstream.
Crucial was the first to announce the release of the current RAM generation, DDR4, way back in 2012. DDR4 vastly outperforms its predecessor in every metric, including transfer speed, density, and power efficiency. Your current PC or Mac likely runs on DDR4 memory, and it almost certainly wouldn’t run most of its programs without it. That’s true for much of the world’s modern technological infrastructure.
We’re at it again with some of the first and fastest RAM in the DDR5 generation. Micron’s lightning-fast LPDDR5 memory is already used in high-performance smart devices. It’s twice as quick as flash DDR4 while consuming half of the power.
Micron LPDDR5 memory today is featured in several high-end smartphones, including the Motorola Edge+ and the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro. Along with 5G connectivity becoming mainstream, the advent of DDR5 becoming the standard laptop and desktop memory will be a key component in the growth of AI and other demanding programs powering big data.
Streaming becomes mainstream
With one delightful exception, Blockbuster closed for good in 2010, harkening the dawn of streaming as the mainstream vehicle for media consumption. Netflix had 7.5 million subscribers in 2007 when it added streaming to its original DVDs-in-the-mail business model, according to Business Insider. Today, Netflix’s streaming audience is 182 million, according to Statista.com. Meanwhile, the music industry shifted almost completely from physical media (remember CDs?) to streaming, which accounted for nearly $9 billion of recorded music revenue in 2019, according to TechCruch.com – or about 80% of all recorded music revenue.
Read more about how technology changed almost every aspect of the music industry, including making recording accessible to emerging artists and shifting artist revenue streams from albums to live performances.
Data centers and the rise of analytics
All of the big data buzzwords – artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, vehicle automation, etc. – have become overused while remaining largely misunderstood. For our purposes, defining each isn’t as important as saying all of those technologies remain mostly untapped, and will contribute to the exponential growth of data stored in the cyber world.
Total data traffic crossed the 1 zettabyte threshold in 2016, according to Cisco Systems – or the equivalent of 1 million petabytes. That translates to six trillion gigabytes.
In two short years, as farms stored more data and analytics such as AI sifted through more of it, that traffic exploded to 33ZB. That study, conducted by Seagate, predicted traffic would again jump to 175ZBs in 2025 with no sign of ever slowing. AI, deep learning, and other methods of digesting huge volumes of data promise to revolutionize important industries, including healthcare, transportation, and advertising. That’s already happening. Something less obvious is happening behind the scenes that will be the broad shoulders carrying that technology: the promise of 5G connectivity, cloud infrastructure, and data center space for all of those zettabytes.
Gaming takes another leap
As noted earlier, the Xbox One/PS4/Switch generation gave gamers better graphics and more complex gameplay. Those benchmarks will surely move again as the console makers continue their arms race. Sony says the PS5 will reportedly be 100 times faster than its predecessor, thanks in part to SSD storage that accesses and loads files faster. Microsoft and Sony hope to launch the Xbox Series X and PS5 in time for the 2020 holiday season.
PC gaming similarly shows the evolution of games and the systems required to play them. One of the bestselling and highest-acclaimed games of 2010 was Mass Effect 2, “a landmark game,” according to IGN. The sci-fi saga incorporated impressive character development and voice acting, a rich story and (for its time) stunning graphics. Many gamers, especially those enjoying a mix of action and RPG gameplay, say the title holds up today.
System requirements to play ME2 were 512MB of RAM and 15GB of storage space, which were fairly demanding in 2010.
That’s a drop in the bucket compared to intensive modern games, such as Call of Duty: Warzone.
The newest CoD title requires 12GB of RAM, more than 20 times greater than Mass Effect 2. Warzone also requires a whopping 90GB of storage, though Warzone players would respond to that stat with the laugh/cry emoji. They have good reason: Since releasing Warzone in March, the game’s publisher released a series of massive updates, overextending storage on many players’ PCs and consoles, according to Forbes:
“We’re now in the neighborhood of 200GB, dwarfing even other massive games like ‘Red Dead Redemption 2.’ It’s getting to the point where the game will basically require a drive all of its own.”
(We humbly point out that the Crucial X8 portable SSD, with a full terabyte of space, is an affordable fix for the storage problem on consoles. Crucial internal SSDs can also boost capacity and shorten load times for PC gamers with an extra PCle or SATA socket.)
It goes without saying that gamers in 2010 would have been dazzled by Warzone’s impressive graphics and multiplayer ability, which allows up to 150 human players to engage in battle royale combat – another gaming innovation of the last decade. Games today are awesome, and they will only get better with the new generation of consoles and PC hardware supporting them.
Looking ahead to 2030
What will tech look like in another 10 years? A few predictions: Big data will continue its exponential growth. Video games will get bigger and (likely) better. Engineers will innovate the next generations of hardware that will power the most powerful computers the world has ever seen.
All of that feels fairly safe. Safer yet is saying that, if the previous decade is any indication, we have no idea how evolving technology will defy our expectations and fundamentally change the way we go about our business. Tune in next time to find out.
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