[LINK] Death of Moore's Law Will Cause Economic Crisis

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Mar 23 22:23:29 AEDT 2011

Fernando writes,

> Gordon Moore's famous law about the doubling of transistor density and 
> power every 2 years will not only end it could bring economic disaster 
> in its wake, respected scientist Michio Kaku has predicted in a new 
> book. [ Link http://ho.io/n3nt ]
> Kaku sets out the crunch moment as being the point at which ultraviolet 
> light can no longer tuned to etch ever smaller circuits on to silicon 
> wafers, which on current trends will kick in less than a decade from 
> now. From that moment on, Moore's Law will gradually diminish, and the 
> effects will not only be technological but economic.

Alternatively, one chip with a trillion bytes of memory & 128 processors:


> Subject: [LINK] Processing and Memory
> Date: Fri Mar 4 15:40:19 EST 2011 

Remapping Computer Circuitry to Avert Impending Bottlenecks

By JOHN MARKOFF  Posted 01 March 2011 - 02:43 PM 

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Hewlett-Packard researchers have proposed a 
fundamental rethinking of the modern computer for the coming era of 
nanoelectronics — a marriage of memory and computing power that could 
drastically limit the energy used by computers.

Today the microprocessor is in the center of the computing universe, and 
information is moved, at heavy energy cost, first to be used in 
computation and then stored. 

The new approach would be to marry processing to memory, to cut down 
transportation of data and reduce energy use. 

In an article published in IEEE Computer in January, Parthasarathy 
Ranganathan, a Hewlett-Packard electrical engineer, offers a radical 
alternative to today’s computer designs known as exascale processors. 

Today, computers constantly shuttle data back and forth among faster and 
slower memories. 

The systems keep frequently used data close to the processor and then 
move it to slower and more permanent storage when it is no longer needed 
for the ongoing calculations. 

In this approach, the microprocessor is in the center of the computing 
universe, but in terms of energy costs, moving the information, first to 
be computed upon and then stored, dwarfs the energy used in the actual 
computing operation. 

"What’s going to be the killer app 10 years from now?" asked Dr. 
Ranganathan. "It’s fairly clear it’s going to be about data; that’s not 
rocket science. In the future every piece of storage on the planet will 
come with a built-in computer." 

To distinguish the new type of computing from today’s designs, he said 
that systems will be based on memory chips he calls "nanostores" as 
distinct from today’s microprocessors. 

They will be hybrids, three-dimensional systems in which lower-level 
circuits will be based on a nanoelectronic technology called the 
memristor, which Hewlett-Packard is developing to store data. 

The nanostore chips will have a multistory design, and computing circuits 
made with conventional silicon will sit directly on top of the memory to 
process the data, with minimal energy costs. 

Within seven years or so, experts estimate that one such chip might store 
a trillion bytes of memory (about 220 high-definition digital movies) in 
addition to containing 128 processors, Dr. Ranganathan wrote. 

If these devices become ubiquitous, it would radically reduce the amount 
of information that needs to be shuttled back and forth in future data 
processing schemes. 

A 10-petaflop supercomputer — scheduled to be built by I.B.M. next year — 
will consume 15 megawatts of power, roughly the electricity consumed by a 
city of 15,000 homes. 

An exascale computer, but built with today’s microprocessors, would 
require 1.6 gigawatts. That would be roughly one and half times the 
amount of electricity produced by a nuclear power plant. (snip) ...

The panel did, however, support Dr. Ranganathan’s memory-centric 
approach. It found that the energy cost of a single calculation was about 
70 picojoules. 

(A picojoule is one millionth of one millionth of a joule. The energy 
needed to keep a 100-watt bulb lit for an hour is 360,000 joules). 

However, the energy costs of moving the data needed to do a single 
calculation — moving 200 bits of data in and out of memory multiple 
times — might cost anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 picojoules. 


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