Welcome to the era of radical innovation
Why the end of Moore's Law may be a good thing for innovation
Computerworld - Moore's Law created a stable era for technology, and now that era is nearing its end. But it may be a blessing to say goodbye to a rule that has driven the semiconductor industry since the 1960s.
Imagine if farmers could go year to year knowing in advance the amount of rainfall they would get. They could plant crops based on expected water availability.
That's the world that device makers, who are gathering this week in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), have long been living in, and every year has been a good one. Droughts haven't been part of the forecast, yet.
The tech industry has been able to develop products knowing the future of processing power, meaning device makers could draw up product road maps based on microprocessor performance gains that could be reliably anticipated.
In sum, the technology industry has been coasting along on steady, predictable performance gains.
But stability and predictability are also the ingredients of complacency and inertia. At this stage, Moore's Law may be more analogous to golden handcuffs than to innovation.
Technology innovation, particularly in the past decade, has been "a succession of entertainment and communication devices that do the same things as we could do before, but now in smaller and more convenient packages," wrote Robert Gordon, an economist, in a recent paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research that addressed the question of whether U.S. economic growth is over.
Moore's Law, first described by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965, states that the number of transistors on a chip would double approximately every two years. But the law was never meant to hold true indefinitely, and today microprocessors are reaching a point where they can shrink no more.
The 14-nanometer silicon chips that are now heading to mobile phones and elsewhere may eventually reach 7nm or even 5nm, but that may be it.
When the European Commission looked at the changing landscape in high-performance computing and the coming end of Moore's Law, it saw opportunity. No longer will "mere extrapolation" of existing technologies provide what is needed, but, instead, there will be a need for "radical innovation in many computing technologies," it said in a report this year.
And in a recent budget request, the U.S. National Science Foundation said that radical innovation beyond Moore's Law will require "new scientific, mathematical, engineering, and conceptual frameworks."
The NSF sees a need for new materials that can work in quantum states, or even "molecular-based approaches including biologically inspired systems."
That new technology could be carbon digital circuits made of nanotubes, which could perform 10 times better than today's technologies, as rated by metric that considers both performance and energy usage. A nanotube is a rolled-up sheet of graphene.
- CompTIA now offers its research without charge
- Microsoft's new CEO and his first-100-days plan
- Personal history may thrust new Microsoft CEO into visa debate
- As Dell cuts, Apple adds jobs in Austin
- Dell cuts 'small percentage' of workforce
- Lenovo's Motorola, IBM server buys will likely get strict U.S. security review
- Welcome to the era of radical innovation
- China passes Japan to become world's 2nd largest IT market
- BlackBerry sale might not include smartphones
- Tech hiring accounts for 10% of U.S. employment gains
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Redefine Your IT Operations: Remote Office IT Has Never Been Simpler Join us to see why PC Pro named Dell PowerEdge VRTX the "2013 Server of the Year." PowerEdge VRTX may be just what...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources... All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!