Where Is 100% of the world’s digital data going?

By Michael Kanellos
Where will you encounter technology from the Arm ecosystem today?" asks Michael Kanellos, Director of Content at Arm

If you take a photo, chances are it’s on Arm. 93% of the 1.5 trillion photos captured every year are captured on Arm-based smartphones and tablets.

Watch a TV programme? Nearly 80% of streaming video–the source of more traffic than any other–gets delivered via set-top boxes, smart TVs, smartphones and other devices running Arm-based processors.

Phones and tablets, meanwhile, account for 71% of internet usage, 80% of social networking, over 50% of gaming revenue, and, with Chromebooks and other Arm-based portables, make up over 80% of the personal computing devices shipping today. And if you look at data centres, a growing number of cloud providers and carriers are integrating Arm-based CPUs and DPUs (data processing units) into their operations to achieve gains in price performance of 40% or more for their customers.

In short, Arm processors are almost everywhere. And in a few years—perhaps less than a decade, perhaps we’re already there—we anticipate that 100% of the world’s digital data will be generated, stored, transmitted, and/or analysed by Arm-based processors at some point during their lifetime.  

Digital technology will also grow exponentially at the same time as people turn to AI, IoT, and 5G to improve health care, expand educational opportunities and in general improve the quality of life. Digital technology will be the fuel of the 21st Century.  

A new computing foundation

To make digital technology more pervasive and powerful, however, we also have to improve it. In smartphones and personal devices, that means creating system-on-chips (SoCs) that combine CPUs, GPUs, NPUs and other technologies to handle tomorrow’s applications.  We also need to lower the cost of devices and digital infrastructure so the 3.5 billion people who still don’t have regular, consistent access to the internet can begin to tap into its power.

We will also have to reimagine the cloud. Digital technologies could potentially reduce worldwide emissions by 15% by 2030. Some, however, predict datacenters could grow from 2% of worldwide electricity to 10% to 15% in the same period without substantial changes. We are collaborating with companies such as Amazon Web Services, Alibaba, Oracle, Ampere Computing and Marvell Technology along with national laboratories in the Republic of Korea, the UK, and India to create computing platforms for the cloud, edge, 5G and high performance computing that can deliver far more performance per watt than in the past.

Software will undergo a major retrofit so that training AI consumes less power and that sophisticated AI inference can happen on the smallest devices. Likewise, you’ll see the Arm community dedicate even more resources to combating hackers with technologies such as Memory Tagging Extension, Morello, and Realms.

A smart, invisible world

While technology advances are critical, trust could be both more important and more elusive to achieve. We need to give consumers and businesses control over technology’s impact in their daily lives. Refrigerators can help reduce power bills by organising their cycles around a family’s daily habits with a little AI, but only if they don’t feel they are being watched by their appliances: performing the necessary calculations and data management on embedded, hardware-secure enclaves could be one way to balance the competing interests at play. In the cloud, applications will dynamically transfer data centres to reduce a customer’s carbon footprint without them having to ask.

Are we 100% there? No, but give us time.


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