Intel execs predicts 15B devices will be connected to the internet

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Intel executive Kirk Skaugen said today that his company expects 15 billion devices will be connected to the internet in the coming years. Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Skaugen said that the growth of data on the internet is racing ahead and data center computing is being pulled along with it.

Skaugen spoke because his boss Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel, was sick. He said that Moore’s Law, the prediction made by Intel chairman emeritus Gordon Moore back in 1965 that the number of transistors on a chip would double every two years, is expected to hold up in the next few years.

Because chip technology continues to advance, the servers that use those chips can handle more and more traffic in data centers. As a result, users are able to upload 48 hours of video to YouTube every minute. Users can also send tweets about 200 million times a day. The internet now supports more than 4 billion connected devices today, and about 7.5 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook each month.

In the past, the number of processors in data centers grew two-fold in ten years, from 2000 to 2010. Skaugen believes we’ll see another doubling in five years. The average price per server has dropped in that time from $58,000 to $3,800.

Virtualization, or software that helps spread processing loads across more processors, will be so popular by 2015 that about three fourths of the time you will get a virtual server when you order a new server. Skaugen said we generated 245 exabytes of data last year and we are spending $450 billion on data centers each year. During 2011, we’ll generate 300 exabytes of data.

The data and the processors will be needed in the future to make increasingly accurate weather predictions. Skaugen said that servers will become 125 times more powerful by 2018 and they will consume about twice as much power. At that point, weather forecasters will be able to predict the landfall locations for hurricanes within a 100-mile radius. Eventually, forecasters should be able to predict the exact zip code where a hurricane will hit, days ahead of time.

While there are concerns that power limits will curtail Moore’s Law, Skaugen said, “Moore’s Law is alive and well.” He said that Intel is working on several generations of chips now that will enable faster processing for the next few years that stays on the pace demanded by Moore’s Law.

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