An End to Moore's Law in a Decade?
Theoretical physicist Mr. Michio Kaku has posted a video discussing the collapse of Moore's Law in about a decade or so. The dearth of Moore's Law has been discussed for a while but Kaku's reasoning, and the slowing down of processing power that is currently witnessed, lends weight to his predictions.
In a nutshell, Moore's Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit board can be doubled roughly every two years. A popular version of Moore's Law is that computing power of silicon chips doubles every 18 months, and this modified cycle is credited to Intel executive Mr. David House.
In his video presentation, Kaku said that in about ten years, Moore's Law will be invalid due to the exhaustion of the physical limits of silicon. One of the reasons we are witnessing Tri-Gate transistors used in Ivy Bridge processors is an effort by Intel to extend the effective life of silicon.
According to Kaku, the physical material limits of silicon lead to two major issues:- heat and leakage. Current Intel processors have a layer that is almost down to 20 atoms across. When this layer is shrunk down to around five atoms across, Kaku said, “...it's all over...”. At this point, the generated heat will be so intense that the silicon will melt. The other concern is leakage, meaning the flow of electrons is uncontrollable, even with proper piping laid on the silicon.
Hence, in the post-silicon era of computing, Kaku said that there are multiple proposals had have been laid out, including but not limited to optical computers, protein computers, DNA computers, molecular computers and quantum computers. The last two items on the proposed list of alternatives are more plausible; however, both solutions have their own limitations.
“If I were to put money on the table, I would say that in the next ten years we’ll simply tweak Moore’s Law a bit with chip-like computers in three dimensions, but beyond that we may have to go to molecular computers and perhaps late in the 21st century quantum computers.” – Kaku
Molecular computers are in existence but its mass production is impeded by the complexity of wiring up molecules into proper circuitries. On the quantum computing front, Kaku said that it is prone to 'quantum decoherence' due to outside interference like noise or unwanted vibrations. In conclusion, Kaku predicts that scientists will tweak Moore’s Law in the next 10 years to extend its life. We have already witnessed efforts by IBM to do so by stacking silicon layers. After the silicon era, molecular computers will likely take over, followed by quantum computers later in the 21st century.