Moore’s Law and the Future of Computing

September 13, 2012 at 12:30 am 7 comments

Hello MAT 120 students! My name is Chris Higgins, and I am a senior Information Systems major with a focus in web design, but I have interests all throughout the world of IT. I manage my own servers and home network, computer security highly interests me (I’m the Vice President of ISUSec, ISUs IT security RSO, check us out), and anything computer related instantly interests me. Hopefully throughout this semester I will be able to get you guys as interested in IT as I am, so let us get started!

I ask you to think back to the first computer you ever used. It was probably running something along the lines of Windows 95 or 98, or maybe it was one of the earlier Mac OS versions. Those computers had such a long boot time, terrible graphics by today’s standards, had a few megabytes worth of memory, and could not do a whole lot of powerful processing. Fast forward to today, probably around 10-15 years forward, where a standard computer has at least a 300GB hard drive, 2GB RAM, and a dual-core processor clocked somewhere around 2.6GHz. That is an absolute TON of improvement in that span of time, and it’s supposed to exponentially get better. So here is where we say hello to Moore’s law.

Moore’s law is “the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years” (Wikipedia). In simpler terms, that means that the processing power of a computer is going to keep raising at an exponential rate. To the debate of some, this could even lead computers to attain a human-level intelligence, called “singularity”. Ask yourself, do you think that one day soon computers will be able to have such a high level of artificial intelligence to where they could actually learn, and be as capable as the human brain? Maybe not Terminator or iRobot style where the machines could end up turning on you, but, be their own being (think C-3PO from Star Wars). Some futurists believe by 2030, computers will have the capability to become as intelligent as humans.

Although Moore’s law does seem to support the fact that it may be possible for computers to be able to “attain” a higher level of learning, some people don’t agree. Various scientists believe that Moore’s law is starting to break, where that it is going to soon become impossible to add more transistors into modern processors because it will become physically impossible. They say that once you get to the atomic level, it will be impossible to add more transistors because there just wont be the space available to do so.  But I guess that is where technology such as multi-core processors come in. Instead of needing to add more transistors into a single processor, add more cores to kind of “spread the load”.

Do you remember hearing about IBM’s supercomputer Watson that appeared on Jeopardy about a year ago? Imagine having an entire server farm full of Watson-like computers, only more intelligent, human level, running a website like Google. They quite possibly know what you’re looking for before you fully enter in your search query. Imagine a server being able to tell you what exactly is wrong with itself, right when it starts crashing. No need for monitoring or diagnostics, the server “tells” you that it is “sick”. Something like that could be possible within the next twenty years. Now, imagine being that system administrator!

Thanks for the read, looking forward to a good semester! And don’t forget to take the quiz!

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  September 13, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Chris, nice way to start us off. Looking forward to reading more!

    Reply
    • 2. Chris Higgins  |  September 14, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Thanks!

      Reply
  • 3. bobkinsloe  |  September 14, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Good post, always have been fascinated by Moore’s law in that it’s held true for over 60 years. I see no reason why it can’t continue another 60. Technology always finds a way and before we know it we’ll be looking at today’s computers as ancient in the same way we currently view the computers of the 70’s or 80’s.

    Reply
    • 4. Chris Higgins  |  September 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

      I wouldn’t be surprised if in ten years we view the computers we have now as terribly ancient. I know I already do, heh.

      Reply
  • 5. Ben Gulans  |  September 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Great article, Chris. Moore’s Law is a great topic to introduce and spark discussion. The amount of progress in the past 10 years alone is simply astonishing. It’s things like this that keep us doing what we’re doing. It’s a continually changing and improving field.

    Reply
    • 6. Chris Higgins  |  September 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      😀

      Reply
  • 7. Anonymous  |  September 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Very interesting! looking forward to more posts. ill be sure to follow along. i love hearing about the future and what is expected to come!

    Reply

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