Trends are finite. As the economist Sir Alex Cairncross had it:
A trend is a trend is a trend
The question is: Will it bend?
Will it alter its course
Through some unforeseen force
And come to a premature end?
Now, it seems, one of the bed-rock trends of the Wintel Age – the ever-expanding size of the PC OS – is ending.
The phenomenon mandated ever-faster processors and ever-larger amounts of DRAM per PC box.
Win95, Win98 and Vista required significant jumps in DRAM content but Win7 was the break-point – it had the same DRAM requirement as its predecessor OS.
And, according to analysts IHS-iSuppli, Microsoft has said that Win8 will not have hardware requirements that will exceed those of Win7.
So, after a 25 year run of average annual growth of 48% for the DRAM content of a PC, the growth has started to slip. It was 38% in 2009, 25% in 2010 and is expected to be 30% this year and 35% next year.
After 2012, the average annual increase is not expected to exceed 35%, say the analysts.
OS size, of course, isn’t the sole determinant of the size of the DRAM content of a PC. While the OS may not require more DRAM, usage practices like launching simultaneous applications and streaming memory intensive video files will need more memory.
But it’s the end of an era. And the end of an earner.