Sunday January 29, 2017

Vanishing Point: The Rise Of The Invisible Computer

The Guardian is giving their (lengthy) thoughts about computing’s current hurdles and how to rise above them, as it is getting harder than ever to make smaller and smaller devices that are more and more powerful. While there is your typical "Moore’s law is dead" rant, it does point out some competent solutions ranging from, at the simplest level, better programming, to more exotic musings, such as quantum computing. I’m just going to sit back and let the engineers do their thing, as I dream of planet-sized computers and transferring my conscious into a PC, Transcendence style.

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Shrinking a chip’s components gets harder each time you do it, and with modern transistors having features measured in mere dozens of atoms, engineers are simply running out of room. There have been roughly 22 ticks of Moore’s law since the launch of the 4004 in 1971 through to mid-2016. For the law to hold until 2050 means there will have to be 17 more, in which case those engineers would have to figure out how to build computers from components smaller than an atom of hydrogen, the smallest element there is. That, as far as anyone knows, is impossible.