Thursday, March 24, 2011

The End of Moore's Law

Michio Kaku believes Moores Law has run its course; that the age of "cheap computing" is over and as a result the economy and life will take a hit as a result.

So the collapse of Moore's law is a matter of international importance, with trillions of dollars at stake. But precisely how it will end, and what will replace it, depends on the laws of physics. The answers to these physics questions will eventually rock the economic structure of capitalism. ...

Around 2020 or soon afterward, Moore's law will gradually cease to hold true and Silicon Valley may slowly turn into a rust belt unless a replacement technology is found.
What happens when computers stop shrinking?

He makes several interesting points - but, as good a physicist as he is, Michio Kaku misses the mark when it comes to business and innovation. For instance, now with computing power growing so fast, efficient use of that computing power is not formost on peoples minds. Look what was able to be done in 1969 with a computer less powerful than in today's phones. Efficient use of the available computing power was paramount then. It will be again. What other ways will we have to increase our processing ability -- assuming we don't find a "replacement technology?" Will we be able to combine existing processors to make something more powerful? Will we be able to develop processes that don't require brute force to solve the problem?

Here's some bits of insight into what's within the realm of possibility:

Fruit Flies Hold the Key To Faster Computing
Dr. Ziv Bar-Joseph, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon, may have found the key to faster computing in the form of fruit flies. While computer scientists have long struggled with determining optimal communications paths in digital environments, Bar-Joseph believes the answer can be found by studying the biological make-up of fruit flies: 'Determining how to select a [Maximal Independent Set] is difficult and has been under scrutiny for many years. It turns out that fruit flies solve a similar problem.
Air Force Supercomputer Made From PS3's
The Air Force's Research Lab in Rome, NY. has one of the cheapest supercomputers ever made, and best of all over 3,000 of your friends can play Tekken on it. The computer is made from 1,716 PlayStation 3s linked together, and is used to process images from spy planes.

The Supercomputer is cheaper and uses a "fraction of the energy that comparably sized supercomputers use. Portions of it — say 300 machines — can be turned on while the rest are off, depending on a job’s needs."
PS3 Supercomputer

Maybe Moore's Law is coming to an end by 2020 (and then again maybe not) but I would bet (and am betting) that greater efficiency will bridge us until new technologies will allow us to once again double computing power at a fairly rapid rate.

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