[Beowulf] Moores Law is dying

Ken Schuster ken at kschuster.org
Wed Apr 8 14:29:17 EDT 2009

"An IBM researcher says Moore's Law is running out of gas. 
IBM Fellow Carl Anderson, who oversees physical design and tools in its server division, predicted the end of continued exponential scaling down of the size and cost of semiconductors...
"There was exponential growth in the railroad industry in the 1800s; there was exponential growth in the automobile industry in the 1930s and 1940s; and there was exponential growth in the performance of aircraft until [test pilots reached] the speed of sound. But eventually exponential growth always comes to an end," said Anderson. 
A generation or two of continued exponential growth will likely continue only for leading-edge chips such as multicore microprocessors, but more designers are finding that everyday applications do not require the latest physical designs, Anderson said. 
Consequently, Moore's Law--halving of the dimensions and doubling of speed of chips every 18 months--will run out of steam very soon. Only a few high-end chip makers today can even afford the exorbitant cost of next-generation research and design, much less the fabs to build them. 
Anderson cited three next-generation technologies that were still on the fast track for exponential growth: optical interconnects, 3-D chips and accelerator-based processing. He predicted that rack-to-rack optical interconnects will become commonplace, with chip-to-chip optical connections on the same board coming soon. But Anderson said on-chip optical signaling remains years away. He also predicted that stacked DRAM dies would be the first to go 3-D.
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