Saturday, 21 May 2011

Breaking Moore’s law?

Breaking Moore’s law?

Moore's law was a statement made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel. Moore noted that the number of transistors that could be squeezed on to a silicon chip was doubling every year. Over time, this has been revised to doubling every 18 months.


Moore's law is one of the most misused concepts in computing. Even though Moore's statement was limited to a very specific quantity - the number of transistors on a chip - it is now used for just about everything else in computing. "Computing power doubles every 18 months" is one common misuse of Moore's observation.

Today, comparisons are made between different quantities that have nothing to do with Moore's law. For example, if "network performance is doubling every nine months", or "data storage density is doubling every 12 months", it might be said that these trends are "outperforming" Moore's law. This could mean that, somehow, computer processors are not keeping up with data storage and network capacity.
This ignores a number of trends which Moore's law does not take into account. For example, the clock cycle of processors increases along with the increase in the number of transistors per chip. This means that processor power grows faster than Moore's law. Further, improvements in chip architecture and operating systems also make processors more powerful than the mere sum of their transistors.

In short, comparing different growth rates using Moore's law is often misleading. It is best to see Moore's law as simply a metaphor for exponential growth in the performance of IT hardware.


As a result of this exponential growth, with every year that passes, the grid concept becomes more feasible: networks become faster and distributed processors can be more tightly integrated.

Individual computers also become more powerful, which means that computer grids are increasingly able to solve increasingly complex problems. All this computing power helps our scientists find solutions to the big questions, like climate change and sustainable power.

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