Links: the death of Moore’s Law

April 6, 2016

From the Economist (written by Tim Cross):

“For some time, making transistors smaller has no longer been making them more energy-efficient; as a result, the operating speed of high-end chips has been on a plateau since the mid-2000s (see chart). And while the benefits of making things smaller have been decreasing, the costs have been rising. This is in large part because the components are approaching a fundamental limit of smallness: the atom. A Skylake transistor is around 100 atoms across, and the fewer atoms you have, the harder it becomes to store and manipulate electronic 1s and 0s.”

I’m not an engineer. But if it’s true that computing power is slowing down then it has important implications for the way we think about software and computer products.

The mentality of Silicon Valley often seems to be that of a little boy saying “I’m blowing up this balloon! And it’s going to get bigger and bigger and never pop!”

Hence perhaps wildly over valued tech firms that never turn a profit. Or strange beliefs like the Singularity; Moore’s Law turned into a religion.

The truth is that civilizations, businesses, technology and even people grow, plateau and then decline. If the future is here, but not evenly distributed then it is likely to stay unevenly distributed.

What kinds of products and services will we need if computing power slows down? What kinds of problems will people be prepared to spend money on to get fixed? Might there be opportunities around fixing what we already have or making it work better rather than fantasies of unlimited growth? A prescient entrepreneur might want to start thinking about this…

(also – the new time a tech guru or new media consultant says “computer power is doubling every two years!” you can say “oh no, it’s not”…)



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