By Rob Aitken, Arm
EETimes (March 27, 2019)
An Arm fellow describes, "how I learned to stop worrying and love the end of Moore's Law."
At CES in January 2019, Nvidia’s chief executive, Jensen Huang, said what most of us in the tech business had already considered and accepted: Moore’s Law, which predicts regular increases in the computing power of silicon chips, is dead.
Today, the smallest commercially produced chips have feature sizes that are a minuscule 7 nm. As transistors get closer to atomic scale, it’s getting harder to shrink them further. Many believe that today’s most advanced transistor design, the FinFET, can’t get below 5 nm without a major rethink—and that even 5 nm may be prohibitively expensive. That means, in turn, that it’s harder to double the density of transistors on a silicon chip every 24 months, as Moore’s Law predicts.
The death of Moore’s Law has major implications, as a slowdown in performance improvements could hit some computing applications hard. Horst Simon, Deputy Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, helps rank the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world twice a year. He notes that while year-over-year increases remain significant—annual performance growth hovers at around 1.6x per year—there has been a marked reduction from the 1990’s and early 2000’s when annual improvements regularly exceeded 2x.
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