The computer power doublings in successive generations of computer chips will come to a halt some time in the 2020s.
High Performance Computing expert Thomas Sterling would like you to know that a computing goal you've never heard of will probably never be reached. The reason you should care is that it means the end of Moore's Law, which says that roughly every 18 months the amount of computing you get for a buck doubles.
The problem: devices can't shrink down below the size of individual atoms. Can quantum computing or some other method allow the doublings to keep going on? If not, the end of the doublings will slow economic growth. Though the biotech revolution will likely have the opposite effect. What's the economic value of a rejuvenated body? I hope I live long enough to find out.
Physicist Michio Kaku foresees the end of the age of silicon.
"In about ten years or so, we will see the collapse of Moore’s Law. In fact, already, already we see a slowing down of Moore’s Law," says world-renowned physicist, Michio Kaku. "Computer power simply cannot maintain its rapid exponential rise using standard silicon technology."
Kaku thinks protein computers or quantum computers might let us go further with more computing power.
Back in 2007 Gordon Moore predicted about 15 years left to run for computer power doublings, at least by shrinking of silicon devices.
Back in 1959 physicist Richard Feynman gave a talk entitled There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom where he outlined the potential of technologies at very small scale. Well, there's still plenty of room for innovation with very small devices, but a lot less than there used to be.
While Moore's Law for increasing computer chip transistor density won't go on for more than another 20 years it is still happening. Intel introduced 32 nanometer chips in 2009 and will introduce 22 nm chips in 2011. The New York Times reports on Rice University and Hewlett-Packard researchers who have developed 5 nanometer logic devices.
These chips store only 1,000 bits of data, but if the new technology fulfills the promise its inventors see, single chips that store as much as today’s highest capacity disk drives could be possible in five years. The new method involves filaments as thin as five nanometers in width — thinner than what the industry hopes to achieve by the end of the decade using standard techniques. The initial discovery was made by Jun Yao, a graduate researcher at Rice. Mr. Yao said he stumbled on the switch by accident.
Will spinning disk drive capacity grow fast enough to remain competitive? Or will solid state drives start replacing spinning disk drives for mass storage?
Handheld computers (mobile phones, music players, games, etc) benefit much more than desktop or even laptop PCs when memory becomes much smaller. But here's what I want to know: What are you going to store in your future cell phone's 4 terabyte memory chip?