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May 09, 2013

Moore's Law still good for the foreseeable future [Purp]

What's Moore's Law you ask?

...The law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, who described the trend in his 1965 paper. The paper noted that the number of components in integrated circuits had doubled every year from the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 until 1965 and predicted that the trend would continue "for at least ten years"...

The move is going to be away from traditional Silicon in the future.

...The process of scaling down chip sizes will require lots of ideas, many of which are taking shape in university research being funded by chip makers and semiconductor industry associations, Holt said. Some of the ideas revolve around new transistor structures and also materials to replace traditional silicon...
The problem with traditional silicon as things get smaller and faster is that its not terribly heat tolerant. This has been the impetus behind multiple smaller "cores" rather than making one big honking uni-core that has the same raw computational power.

With multiple cores, they get physically spread out a bit and are easier to keep cool. Lots of stuff in one place gets hot fast.

One of the new contenders has actually be around for quite a while -- Gallium Arsenide. GaAs has lots of problems though. Its crystals don't grow as uniform as Silicon crystals do, which reduces usable wafer area and raises cost. Its a lot more nasty and toxic than Silicon too.

Silicon Carbide (SiC) is another player. It has outstanding heat resistance (like 2X the melting point of Silicon). Its significantly better at transferring heat than Silicon is. Alas, it too has crystal uniformity issues, although not quite as bad as GaAs. The cool thing about pure'ish SiC is its almost clear like glass. With lasers it can be doped at different depths and layers inside the material, not just on top like with traditional epitaxial methods. I've fiddled with SiC in a lab, its impressive stuff. If the crystal growth irregularity issues could be improved a bit, it could overtake Silicon overnight for high performance devices and things that need to operate in very harsh environments.

MOORE's LAW in action -- check out this low end 1973 vintage IBM 370 "mainframe"

...The Model 115 uses a minimum of two directly-attached IBM 3340 disk drives. Up to four 3340 disk drives may be attached, providing nearly 280 million characters of on-line storage...

...The Model 115 offers the smallest main memory size -- 65,536 characters of data - - in the System/370 line, but also is available with, or may be expanded to, 98,304 characters...

... Typical monthly rentals will range from $5,891 to $8,155...
...Purchase prices will range from $265,165 to $352,115...

A cool quarter mil in 73' bucks for a machine with 64k of memory. 10 years later, a 64k PC would have been considered anemically configured. By the early 1990's a 400M drive cost under $500, and machines were getting fitted with megabytes of memory, not kilobytes.

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posted by Open Blogger at 05:41 AM

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