With all the excitement over the Amazon Fire Phone, whose specs seem good but hardly exceptional, Hewlett Packard may have moved the goal posts rather further. Its new initiative, “The Machine,” looks to master the Big Data revolution by building systems of undreamt-of power, as early as 2020.
As detailed in HP’s own materials, “few understand just how big ‘big data’ has gotten … Today, our digital universe is about four zettabytes. To put that in perspective, while one terabyte can store roughly 100,000 minutes of music, one zettabyte can store just over two billion years of music. By the end of the decade, we’ll be starting to use a unit that few people have ever heard of: the brontobyte — a billion exabytes — or two quadrillion years of music.”
HP’s solution platform, ‘The Machine,” looks to provide a solution by “coordinating and advancing four emergent technologies in parallel” – system-on-a-chip, memristors, photonics, and an advanced open-source OS. This essentially restores HP’s innovation credentials, at least on the engineering side. HP’s own first pictures of The Machine are far from the design elegance of an iPhone.
But the implications for mobile devices – Kindles included – are huge. Reports of The Machine platform speak of handheld devices able to hold 100 terabytes of memory – equivalent to almost seven times the entire Library of Congress, according to one c.2012 calculation. So at the very least, future users may be in no danger of running out of reading materials. The wider implications of such storage and processing power are yet to be seen – or imagined.