R.I.P. Moore’s Law? Not so fast!

For the past 40 years, computing tech has advanced in accordance with Moore’s Law, with MIPS/dollar roughly doubling every 2 years, resulting in a thousand-fold growth per decade. Can this be sustained? If so, how will it impact Tech in the coming decade

The chart below illustrates the trend commonly known as Moore’s Law, which initially predicted a semi-annual doubling of the density of transistors within ICs. More recently, however, Moore’s Law has been recast in terms of processor performance per inflation-adjusted dollar (i.e. MIPS/$).

12 decades of Moore’s Law — Kurzweil/Jurvetson Variant
(click image to enlarge; source)

Additionally, the dramatic advances in computing tech thanks to the Moore’s Law effect have been accompanied by a proliferation of peripheral devices, sensor types, and capabilities. The offloading of analysis and data storage to “cloud” resources (AWS, Google, Azure…), combined with hundreds of millions of intelligent “edge” devices that provide real-time processing and real-world interfaces, have vastly multiplied the power and flexibility of advanced technology throughout our world today, and have migrated compute-based intelligence from simple, predefined logic toward non-deterministic, AI-based algorithms (256-page PDF).

Furthermore, the impact of Moore’s Law on compute power has been amplified by several other factors:

  • Specialized “XPU” co-processors deliver high efficiency to specific types of applications
  • Innovative architectures, e.g. Arm’s “big.LITTLE”, help maximize efficient allocation of compute resources
  • Product vendors can now mint their own customized SoCs, tuned to the precise needs of their products
  • Transformative hardware breakthroughs like “Quantum Computing” can be expected to further disrupt computing tech

Taken in aggregate, these advances in computing technology are sure to impact every aspect of science and life: from AI, to neuroscience, to synthetic biology, to space exploration, and beyond! SpaceX, for example, has successfully substituted millions of computer simulations for time-consuming, expensive wind-tunnel simulations previously used in aerospace development.

Welcome to the second decade of the 20th Century — enjoy the ride!

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