Sunday, February 18, 2007

Moore’s Law, still proofed correct.

Gordon Moore one of the founders of Intel, made an empirical observation in the 60’s stating that the number of transistors in a ship will double every 18 to 24 months.

In the last years, a lot of rumors were floating around that Moore’s law is hitting a wall because current technologies are reaching the limit of what we can put on a silicon ship. But in the last few months , announcements came from Intel and IBM that saved Moore’s law. Intel came up with the new multiple core technology, where combining new materials allowed it to be able to build gates and switches insulated at 45nm while reducing transistor leakage and thus minimizing power consumption. But still this does not solve the performance problem, for that Intel introduced with the Core concept a way to use multiple processors on a ship to increase the performance. They even have a prototype of an 80 core layered in tiles consuming only 62 Watts. As a comparison, in 1996 to achieve Tera-Flop performance Intel used 10000 Pentium Pro (ASCI Red Supercomputer) that consumed 500 KWatt of Electricity!!!

By successfully shrinking the silicon gate dielectric to as little as 1.2nm thick –(five atomic layers!!), they solved the density problem in the past and with this new breakthrgouh, they would replace silicon dioxide with a thicker hafnium-based high-k material in the gate dielectric, reducing leakage by more than 10 times allowing to put more transistors, thus more processors on the same surface.

This is a leap that will take performance to level we’ve never see in PC’s before, assuming that MS Vista will leave some of that to the applications :-).

These processors use tera-scale computing in which chips can perform trillions of calculations per second and move terabytes of data. These processors can reconfigure themselves to perform tasks that were only possible using specialized ICs.

IBM on the other side is not idling and it announced a new memory technology that reduce memory cycle time to 2 ns which is 10 time faster than the existing RAM. By embedding these memories inside the processor, IBM will achieve a comparable level of performance to Intel’s architecture. Now imagine combining these two technologies together!!!

So Moore’s law still have good days laying ahead.