Faster and Larger
How Long Until You Have CD Rewritable drives?
News by Al Giovetti

We will see in the next two years processors over 500 MHz. Processors will have new features such as MMX that will enhance three dimensional graphics, and built-in sound enhancement. Intel will add more and more features right on the PC chip until everything is on the chip except certain interface refinements.

RAM prices and technology will increase. Already research and the marketplace are putting high capacity RAM in a more affordable range. 16 MB RAM 72-pin simm modules dropped in price from over $400 to around $100, with a price low of about $70, placing affordable RAM in reach of masses of computer users. Windows 95 runs nice, but it runs a whole lot nicer with 64 MB of RAM.

Not only is RAM cheaper but it is becoming more powerful. Chip manufacturers are coming up with Mega-RAM of higher and higer capacities, and this coupled with the lower price will open the door for computers with 128 MB and higher amounts of RAM up to One gigabyte of RAM in desktop computers wihin the next few years.

CD-ROMs have had their increases in this arena as well. The most dramatic development over the last few years was the DVD (or Digital Video Disk) technology that will bring up to 18 GB (giga-bytes) of information to the desk top. This is an expansion of over 30 times the data of the standard 660 MB 5.25 inch CD (Computer Compact Disk).

Speed of CD-ROMs is also on the rise with speeds of 10 and 12 more usual now and 8 speeds no longer in production. Where speed is concerned expect the speeds to more than double in 12 months on the CD ROM drives. There is an advantage to more and more speed in music and video reproduction, but eventually people will have to shift to DVD to get the larger files needed to run the really high quality video.

Hard drive capacities are now increasing along with the drop in pricing. It is not unusual to find 2.6 GB hard drive for $400 with 4 GB drives in the $600 range. Even when SCSI drives are priced the capacity is increasing while the price is decreasing.

Another area of rapid change is in the bandwidth over regular telephone lines. Commonly called POTS (or plain old telephone service), here is where many changes have taken place rescently. We have gone from a 28.8 Kbps to 57.6 Kbps in less than one year with 115.2 Kbps speed over phone lines not too far behind. Unfortunately, the service providers have still not caught up by getting with the modems.

Just this week the new draft standard for the 57.6 Kbps was announced, so that mass adoption of the technology will follow. This means faster internet access and better internet video with higher frame rate and larger size. See my article on this very issue.

Also on the move are the CD Recordable drives which are predicted by International Data Corp. to have an installed base of 1.9 million by 1997, but to dwindle off in the next four years to a negligable base by the year 2,000. The experts expect CD-RW (CD-Eraseable Drives) installed base to replace the CD-R drives by 1998. IDC predicts that the DVD-R/RAM (Digital Videodisk Recordable Random Access Memory drive will dominate the installed base by the year 2000 with almost 6 million installed units.

Five companies are in the forefront with the new CD-RW technology standard that will allow the CD-RW to be read by CD and DVD: Philips (, Ricoh (, Hewlett Packard (, Mitsubishi (, and Sony ( Philips and Ricoh will have a CD-RW drive available in early 1997 for $1,000. Prices are expected to drop rapidly to $500 with the next six months, fueling the expected installed base of 2.8 million by 1998.

The tendency for capacity and speed or performance to increase as price decreases is known in the industry as the price to performance ratio which is constantly dropping over time. The speed with which this is happening is accelerating. We estimate that performance doubles every six to twelve months now and the prices drop by one half on the older high speed computers, while the new standards remain pricey. --

Al Giovetti, The Computer Show, 1615 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD, 21228-5022, 410-747-0396