Ahhh, you probably haven’t had experience with stuff like microprocessor design or computer math or the pitfalls therein, but here’s a crash course (pun intended) on just one aspect. According to ancient technical sage Gordon Moore, the number of transistors (or “on/off” switches) we can pack on a bit of silicon doubles every two years. And that’s a good thing considering the fact that you can now go the the local CVS and buy a calculator with more computing oomph than we had on Apollo 11. But here’s the down side — humans are greedy. We want yet more hp in our HP… And that means shrinking and goosing the suckers…
Problemo… Electricity is nothing more than the piling up of electrons (measured in volts or electrical potential) and the rapidity of commuting (amperage) said electrons from a place of higher electrical potential to a place of lower. But here’s the trick… If you make the commute path narrow enough, some electrons just don’t want to play by the rules, and what started out as one signal becomes quite another. (Think of fine stereo becoming static.) Such is the hassle of the end of Moore’s theory. By 2020, we’ll have pushed the little electron wee beasties as far as they can go, and then we truly will be porked with our pants on.
So what is to happen? Well… We have options… We can learn to write tight code again just like we did in the 1950s, ’60s, and 1970s… We can fall back on multiple chip levels (like the Intel Quad) and multi-processor machines… We can use dispersed networking like SETI… Or… We could bust a cap and go for the mother load — optical computing… Here’s the deal… Traditional computing theory struggles with many things, but chief amongst them is something called the “Von Neumann’s Block” — the nasty sequential nature of calculation. The way around that would be to stop worrying about KHz, and MHz, and GHz, and start looking at lens processors that could multitask using light photons instead of single-lane chips and frumpy old electrons. (Don’t scoff… We’ve been doing this sort of thing in the lab for decades… Hell!!! A.G. Bell used light to modulate phone conversation back in 1880.)
Anywho… It looks like we’re coming up on the end of Moore’s Law… And that might just might make you want to re-hash plans for 2020…
Two cats blogging by the racks…
* Nat Decants: A thorough glossary from Natalie MacLean, noted wine writer, speaker, and judge.
* eRobertParker.com: “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines”
* GLOSSARY of Wine-Tasting Terminology (Version 1.4 – Jan. 1995): A thorough collection of definitions from Anthony Hawkins.