Forty-five yrs ago, Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every 18 months or so. The approximation predicted that the amounts of processing power will double every 1.5 – 2 years. He also predicted that this trend would last a decade. It continues to hold true.
How does Moore’s Law apply to data logging? It applies because data logging devices are getting smarter. When the first data logging devices were released, they were used to take down data and notate on paper (e.g. old chart recorders). Even a few years ago, data logging devices sole purpose was to log data. With Moore’s Law, the trend and increased processing allows data acquisition devices to play greater role in intelligence process.
DAQ vendors continue to push limits when it comes to acquisition rate. By including intelligence, it allows the device to become smart in its own behavior. Rather than simply being a fixed functionality device, devices can adapt to conditions. For example, a device can log data at a continuous speed. If it detects a condition that is erroneous, it can choose to speed up how it collects data, can send data to the cloud or a device, or it can choose to save data at that point in time. This intelligence can be built into a device with the right platform. With certain applications (such as the smart grid), the goal is to perpetually log data at a certain cadence (which can be slow). But over time, if an anomaly is detected, switching to a more busty acquisition mode may allow for greater data detection rates. Traditional data acquisition devices always had intelligence (through their connection to a PC and software), but it is the concept of offline intelligence (through the integration of intelligence within the device) that is arising.
From the DAQ Series: What is a data acquisition system (DAQ), the two images of data acquisition system (NI and MATLAB’s view), there is intelligence in the system, but in the form of a laptop or desktop computer with software in it. The desktop and the DAQ device are separate entities. In this example, the DAQ device transmits to a bus, and intelligence happens at the computer. However, differentiation will happen because of Moore’s Law. Computation will reside in DAQ device.
The ways in which Moore’s Law has continued to hold true is interesting. At first, the approach taken was through making smaller transistors and stuffing more data into the same space. Now, there is an evolution toward multicore processors.