Xerxes Future Predictions – Computing Power

I was thinking a few days ago about how things have changed in IT and software over the last number of years and how some things were overwhelmingly successful and of course others were quite underwhelming.

This got me thinking about what will probably happen in a few years, and I thought i’d put it down on paper (of sorts) to look back at in a few years time and wonder wtf was I thinking. NB: I don’t make these statements because I actually think I know – i’m just taking educated guesses here…

In terms of computing power, we’ve seen Moore’s Law hold true for over 40 years, albeit with a slight shift around the early part of this decade when we started reaching the physical speed limits of single-core processors. However this problem was easily circumvented as manufacturers continued to reduce transistor size and throw more cores on the same die. Inherently this has shifted the problem of maximising software performance from raw CPU throughput to parallelism of software operations.

Of course despite all of this progress, there will be a physical limit that current design and manufacturing processes can sustain. Beyond that, we would need to look into quantum computing to continue pushing down the speed and size of computing.

Xerxes Predicts:

  • 1-2 years:
    • Consumer computing power will remain dual-core for netbooks and laptops
    • Quad-core processors will become more common for desktop machines
    • Transistor manufacturing technology will remain largely in the 45nm range, possibly getting smaller.
    • Quantum computing will remain more research based
  • 2-5 years:
    • Power-efficient processors like Intel’s Atom used for netbooks will get faster in CPU – meeting current desktop speed limitations
    • Note/netbooks will have quad-core standard, with more power pushed to individual components (eg: video, I/O)
    • Desktop computing will move to around 8-cores up to 10 or 12 per processor, however heating considerations will become more prevalent
    • Quantum computing will make its foray into the commercialised world. Until the technology is commercialised it will have virtually nil adoption. Possible uses for commercial quantum computing would be in research facilities for genome decoding, genetic folding or weather modelling.
  • 5-10 years:
    • Consumers will discuss CPU-cores in their computers as we currently discuss CPU speed
    • Quantum computing will become more prevalent in dedicated hardware electronics like Cisco routers or hardware firewalls.
    • Consumer commercialisation of quantum computing is still a little bit away but will bolster a new generation of technological advancements

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