Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 2, 2015
Heh – after yesterday’s awesome comparison of the 1957 Elliott 405 to last week’s release of the Raspberry Pi Zero, here comes news that the phenomenal growth in computer power over the decades may finally be hitting the limits of both physics and economics. Moore’s Law isn’t coming to an end, exactly, just downshifting a little bit with slower growth:
Bloomberg Business: Chips Aren’t Getting Much Smaller, and That Stinks for Intel
This is probably not bad news if you are the type who hates having to constantly upgrade their phone and/or computer because of obsolescence. Now electronics will take ~66% longer to become obsolete!
I think part of what might be driving it (besides, you know, science and physical limits to sizes, until we get quantum computing figured out) is simply that we’ve hit the law of diminishing returns in many areas. Back in the 80s and 90s, the difference in performance between two-year-old tech and modern tech was extreme. This made game development on PCs particularly challenging, because it was a fast-moving target. If you were too optimistic, your game was unplayable on any but the most bleeding-edge machines when you released. If you were too conservative, your game looked dated and boring the day it released. The difference in horsepower was that noticeable.
Now, not so much… And if consumers don’t notice the difference, demand will drop. For example, if you double the polygon count of a model, it’s hardly noticeable nowadays, as this graphic that has been circulating for several years illustrates:
I still like having what was once considered astronomical amounts of RAM and drive space becoming available for cheapski, pennies-on-the-gigabyte. I’ve lived with Moore’s Law (or better) being kind of a guidepost for how technology will advance for my entire career, and so any suggestion that it’s slowing down does give me some misgivings.
But realistically, I don’t see this being a huge impact in my life. I’m not one of the guys pushing the bleeding edge who will have to wait longer for tech to catch up to my vision.
Filed Under: General - Comments: 4 Comments to Read