Engineering Tech

Cars and their relationship with Moore's Law

Terence Eden discussed Moore’s Law and how car manufacturing plays into it on his blog back in January. Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles every two years, which has become “the speed and capability of our computers doubling every couple of years, and we will pay less for them”.

After talking about smartphones and their relationship with Moore’s Law, Terence moved onto cars:

Cars are now computers and batteries on wheels. They haven’t seen quite the drop in price as regular computers – but they have seen a huge rise in reliability and safety features.

He showed the monthly cost of a SEAT Mii as a comparison with a iPhone contract. It’s an interesting observation and one I hadn’t considered (not least because I don’t drive). But Terence isn’t the only one to look into their relationship.

In a blog post entitled “Auto Industry Takes Moore’s Law for a Drive”, Will Drewery, the Vice President of Industry Marketing at Bright Machines, looked positively at Moore’s Law within the auto industry:

While there is some debate in the computer science world about the limits of his prediction, one thing is certain: Moore’s Law is alive and well in the auto industry.

Just as Gordon Moore predicted computers would double in power every two years, we at Bright Machines are witnessing dramatic growth in the number of new vehicles leveraging central processing units (CPUs) to drive these new capabilities. The next generation of vehicles has 10x the CPUs than those being developed just a few short years ago. The processing power required of these new intelligent vehicles is so great that vehicles themselves are becoming “data centers on wheels.”

In 2019, Edwin Olson (CEO of May Mobility) observed Moore’s Law for self-driving cars and found a link with data, using the measurement of system performance as the number of miles per disengagement:

In a cosmic coincidence, the Moore’s law for self-driving cars is almost the same as the Moore’s law for computers — performance doubles every 16 months!

So it appears Moore’s Law extends beyond phone and computers. It’ll be interesting to see what kinds of cars we get for, say, £1,000, every couple of years, and if we can get a free car with a phone contract as Terence mentioned, that’d be quite a feat!

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