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  (Source: LucasFilm)

Gordon Moore's prediction of doubling transistor counts every 2 years revolutionized the computer industry and his company, Intel.  (Source: New York Times)

An NVIDIA VP is declaring Moore's Law dead and GPUs the only hope for the industry.  (Source: TechCrunch)
In NVIDIA's eye the parallelism of the GPU is the only future for computing

NVIDIA has struggled this time around in the GPU war.  Its first DirectX 11 products were delivered a full seven months after AMD's.  While its new units are at last trickling onto the market and are very powerful, they're also hot, loud, and power hogs.  However, NVIDIA is staking much on the prediction that the computer industry will be ditching traditional architectures and moving towards parallel designs; a movement which it sees its CUDA GPU computing as an ideal solution for.

Intel and NVIDIA have long traded jabs, and Intel's recent failed GPU bid,
Larrabee, does little to warm to the ice.  In a recent op-ed entitled "Life After Moore's Law", published in Forbes, NVIDIA VP Bill Dally attacks the very foundation of Intel's business -- Moore's Law -- declaring it dead.

Moore's Law stemmed from a paper [PDF] published by Gordon Moore 45 years ago this month.  Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted in the paper that the number of transistors per area on a circuit would double every 2 years (later revised to 18 months).  This prediction was later extend to predict that computing power would roughly double every 18 months, a prediction that became known as Moore's Law.

Now with die shrinks becoming more problematic, NVIDIA is convinced the end is nigh for Moore's Law (and Intel).  Writes Dally:

Moore's paper also contained another prediction that has received far less attention over the years. He projected that the amount of energy consumed by each unit of computing would decrease as the number of transistors increased. This enabled computing performance to scale up while the electrical power consumed remained constant. This power scaling, in addition to transistor scaling, is needed to scale CPU performance.
But in a development that's been largely overlooked, this power scaling has ended. And as a result, the CPU scaling predicted by Moore's Law is now dead. CPU performance no longer doubles every 18 months. And that poses a grave threat to the many industries that rely on the historic growth in computing performance.

Dally says that the only near-term hope for the computer industry now that Moore's Law is "over" is parallel computing -- splitting workloads up among a variety of processors.  However, he derides multi-core efforts by AMD and Intel, stating, "Building a parallel computer by connecting two to 12 conventional CPUs optimized for serial performance, an approach often called multi-core, will not work. This approach is analogous to trying to build an airplane by putting wings on a train. Conventional serial CPUs are simply too heavy (consume too much energy per instruction) to fly on parallel programs and to continue historic scaling of performance."

He concludes, "Let's enable the future of computing to fly--not rumble along on trains with wings."

In other words, he hopes you will buy NVIDIA GPUs and join the "Moore's Law is dead" party.



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By driver01z on 5/5/2010 1:46:52 PM , Rating: 2
My basic thought is - development will continue in the areas that are profitable. And where does profit lie in the future? Is it in having a faster CPU/GPU for a desktop at reasonable cost (as in the past)? Is it in having processors for mobile devices? Is it in having swappable processors on a future generic PC where you can add more processors as simply as adding an external hard drive? Maybe its only in specific industries and gaming enthusiasts - who else wants/needs a powerful computer except for games or actual computing-intensive work?

One of these companies could make a 100-core processor or begin to break the 4GHz barrier - but how much sales would this generate?

For me, my personal interests lie primarily in gaming. If a gaming experience is available that is critically acclaimed and offers new levels of immersion and entertainment - if its something I can afford and want to support, I'll support it, regardless of what format it takes - be it some new mobile tech, a new console - I won't care if its uses Windows or how many cores it has or if its backwards compatible with my previous software, etc. I think this is what these companies should focus on - what experiences do consumers want? Most consumers don't care about the specific tech behind it as long as its entertaining - therefore, if there are roadblocks in technology, like ability to increase processor speed or make threaded programs - I don't think it should matter too much - just find a different way to be entertaining. Of course it may very well be that by doing R&D on bio/nano-processors that you could provide a chip that can do photo-realistic virtual reality - if that route is possible, then certainly go for it - go for the best experience that's actually possible, whatever that may be. I'm thinking now these companies are in a state of determining what is possible vs what is not worth pursuing.




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