3 Technologies That Drastically Improved the Speed of Computers

3 Technologies That Drastically Improved the Speed of Computers

It’s not all about the computer’s processor when it comes to speed, particularly in our modern computers. There are many components and parts of the computer that have a lot to contribute to the overall speed and performance of the modern computer. Here are a few of the most impactful developments over the last decade or so that have made computing what it is today.

Solid State Drives

Ever since we left the punch card behind, storage in computers has traditionally relied on magnetic technology. A physically moving and spinning disk, whether fixed inside the computer or removable via a disk drive,uses a special platter with a magnetic coating anda special head that physically has to move over this disc surface both to read and write data. This means that to read and write this data, it has to be physically located by the computer on the disk before it can be processed.

Flash memory changed this by creating a memory that doesn’t have any moving parts and is instead instantly accessible. The flash drive was perhaps the first mainstream use of this technology, but it didn’t take long for computer hard drives to adopt it in the form of a solid-state drives. While a traditional spinning hard drive can read data at between 30 and 150MB a second, the fastest SSDs have no trouble reaching upwards of 3000MB/s, a significant difference indeed.


To understand why PCI-Express is such a fundamental improvement in speed, we need to understand how expansion card slots in computers interface with the processor.

Traditionally, PCI slots interfaced with a special controller on the mainboard called the southbridge. This, in turn, sent all its information to the northbridge controller, which was responsible for interfacing with the processor and memory. PCI-Express made a subtle but important change to this – it allowed the expansion slots to interface directly with the northbridge, and thus directly with the processor and memory. Today’s incredible display cards that power RTX Gaming PCs simply wouldn’t be possible without the PCI-Express slot.


While perhaps not directly related to the overall speed of the computer, USB3 and its newer variations took the humble USB port and revolutionized what it’s capable of. Not only was the jump in speed of USB3 significant, allowing transfer speeds of up to 5Gbit/s (10 times faster than USB2), but it also enabled technologies like video output. Laptops can have multiple screens and power delivery so docking stations can send power to the computer to avoid having to fiddle with lots of cables and connections every time you move your laptops. These sorts of conveniences simply weren’t possible using the older USB technologies.

We owe a lot of our success in business and entertainment to the wizards who constantly invent and evolve the technologies that power our computers and peripherals. No doubt in the coming years we’ll see the technologies we described here replaced with even better and faster versions or options. Such is the way that computing technology works and evolves.

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