Moore’s Law is finally breaking down, according to theoretical physicist Michio Kaku . He’s talking about the so-called law that says the number of transistors that can be fit on a computer chip willdouble every two years, resulting in periodic increases incomputing power. According to Kaku: …in about ten years or so, we will see the collapse ofMoore s Law. In fact, already, already we see a slowing down ofMoore s Law. Computer power simply cannot maintain its rapidexponential rise using standard silicon technology.
IntelCorporation has admitted this. It’s true. At the International Supercomputing Conference2011 last June, Intel architecture group VP Kirk Skaugen said something about Moore’s Law not being sufficient , by itself, for the company to ramp up to exascale performance by2018. But he went on to tout Intel’s tri-gate technology (the company’s so-called “3D” processors) as thesolution, which Skaugen claimed translates to “no more end oflife for Moore’s Law.” ( MORE: Meet the Quantum Computer Inside a Diamond Does It Run Forever ? ) Moore’s Law, introduced by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in a 1965 paper , was never a law in any scientific sense — it’salways been more a rule of thumb (that, and “Moore’sRule” sounds so much less authoritative).
And as others havepointed out, given Intel’s dominance in the chip industry formuch of the period in which Moore’s Law has applied (orappeared to), there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy angle inwhich the dominant industry player sets the pace for its ownbenefit. ( VIDEO: The Singularity: How Scared Should We Be? ) Moore also clarified in a 2003 interview that the idea of computer power doubling every 18 months —sometimes mistaken as the basis of Moore’s Law — wasadvanced by Intel’s David House. While such performance gainscould be achieved by Moore’s prediction that transistorcounts would double every two years, House apparently calculatedthat transistors would get faster as well, resulting in computingperformance doubling every 18 months ( in a later 2005 interview , Moore admitted “we re doing a little better than [24months]”). Despite Intel’s recent advances with tri-gate processors,Kaku argues the company has merely prolonged the inevitable: thelaw’s collapse due to heat and leakage issues. Clean Room Wipers
“So there is an ultimate limit set by the laws of thermaldynamics and set by the laws of quantum mechanics as to how muchcomputing power you can do with silicon,” says Kaku, noting”That s the reason why the age of silicon will eventuallycome to a close,” and arguing that Moore’s Law could”flatten out completely” by 2022. Where do we go once Gordon Moore’s axiom runs out of steam?Kaku hypothesizes several options: protein computers, DNAcomputers, optical computers, quantum computers and molecularcomputers. And then he makes a bet: If I were to put money on the table I would say that in the nextten years as Moore s Law slows down, we will tweak it. We willtweak it with three-dimensional chips, maybe optical chips, tweakit with known technology pushing the limits, squeezing what we can. Clean Room ESD Manufacturer
Kaku then invokes parallelism as another stop-gap measure, aconcept that’s been around for decades, but assuming theexponential requirements for processing power hold, “Sooneror later even three-dimensional chips, even parallel processing,will be exhausted and we ll have to go to the post-siliconera,” says Kaku. ( MORE: Meet Intel s Crazy 50-Core Knights Corner , World s First 1TFLOPS Processor ) How would a molecular computer work? Imagine molecules in the shapeof a valve, says Kaku. You turn the valve one way and the electricity stops through thatmolecule. You turn it the other way and electricity flows throughthat molecule just like a pipe and a valve because that s what atransistor is, a switch, except this switch is molecular ratherthan a switch made out of piping. But molecular computing has mass production issues because —surprise! — molecules are teeny-tiny. Silicon Sticky Roller
Why in the world, then,would Kaku invoke even smaller particle-based computers as a viable alternative? Because quantum computing could produce the “ultimatecomputer.” Kaku doesn’t explain why, but I’llsummarize: Digital computers set bits to either “0″ or”1,” but in a quantum computer, the bits can be”0″ and “1,” at the same time, allowing for incredibly fastcalculations according to a principle called”superposition.” The problem, and you knewthere’d be one, is something called”decoherence.” Kaku explains: Let s say I have two atoms and they vibrate in unison. If I havetwo atoms and they vibrate in unison I can shine a light wave andflip one over and do a calculation, but they have to first startvibrating in unison. Eventually an airplane goes over. Eventually achild walks in front of your apparatus. Eventually somebody coughsand then all of the sudden they re no longer in synchronization.It gets contaminated by disturbances from the outside world.
Onceyou lose the coherence, the computer is useless. Given that, Kaku says that when Moore’s Law finally collapsesby the end of the next decade, we’ll “simply tweak[it] a bit with chip-like computers in three dimensions.”Beyond that, he says “we may have to go to molecularcomputers and perhaps late in the 21st century quantumcomputers.” [via Geek.com ] PHOTOS: A Brief History of the Computer.