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Moore's Law Is Too Slow

by Charlie Martin on Jan 12, 2009 |

Advances in "cloud computing", clustering, and general-purpose computing with commodity GPUs suggest compute power per dollar may increase significantly faster than Moore's Law predicts.

The first full week of January is always an exciting time in the computer industry.  The Consumer Electronics Show and MacWorld bring announcements of new products; computer firms that aren't oriented to the retail consumer also tend to make new announcements, in order not to be left out of the news.  This week, several announcements suggest that a more distributed "cloud computing" model will drive large system architecture, providing increasing computer power to the user even more quickly than Moore's Law would suggest.

One of the keystones of cloud computing is the ability to build clusters with high-speed interconnections.  While there are specialized inter-computer connections, like Infiniband, high-speed 10 Gb Ethernet is also quickly becoming practical, while not requiring as much specialized new network hardware and different management.  This means that high-capacity clusters can be built at lower cost.

At the same time, AMD has announced a new planned supercomputer based on general purpose computing with commodity graphics processors.  This has many potential uses, but AMD in particular is looking at their new machine to provide high-performance computing directly to the consumer for gaming and graphics.

Architectures based on clustering using 10Gb Ethernet, powered by cheap supercomputers built on commodity graphics processors, combine to create an environment for high-capacity inexpensive computing to the consumer.  These architectures have dramatic implications for gaming, home video, and network-based computing.

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it is about right by Christopher Brind

I get your point about cloud computing, but Moore's law is about fitting more computing power in the same amount of space.

I'm using an iMac with 3.06ghz dual core right now and taking in to account inflation cost me roughly the same as my 66mhz pc did 10 years ago, so i think it's pretty much spot on!

Re: it is about right by Dustin Whitney

Beating Moore's Law is no problem! Just change what it says!

Yeah, I agree with Christopher, but nonetheless, advances in cloud computing have been rad.

Re: it is about right by Christopher Brind

Beating Moore's Law is no problem! Just change what it says!

Yeah, I agree with Christopher, but nonetheless, advances in cloud computing have been rad.


My worry about cloud is that people use it for the sake of it, when the architecture for a solution could be somewhat simpler. I also worry that it'll get to the levels of science fiction where an elite group are managing software for the populace years after the original authors have passed away. Pushing software in to the cloud feels like releasing pet rabbits in to the wild, they'll either die (of disease or because of predators), or flourish and affect the whole ecosystem.

But I guess that's a discussion for elsewhere... :)

Re: it is about right by Dustin Whitney

Shameless plug...

I don't think cloud computing has to be hard. In fact I'd argue the opposite: cloud computing makes life easier. Have you checked out Cloud Tools (code.google.com/p/cloudtools/). It makes deploying JEE apps a no-brainer, and Google App Engine and Heroku are similarly easy.

I think with languages like Erlang and Scala coming into being, exploiting the cloud, as well as multiple cores, will continue to make things easier.

It is becoming too fast ... by Harald Mueller

Moore's law states an exponential growth of computing power per area over time. Cloud computing (and all other parallel computing concepts) will give you an "arbitrary" speedup at first - but ONLY as long as there is unused (and available) computer power around. From then on, we will get approximately a linear growth and nothing more, because someone will have to manufacture and hook up the copmuters to the cloud. There are times when the manufacturing speed increases super-linearly; but I doubt this with computers very much - the manufacturing processes for chips, boards, cables, housings etc. have been optimized for the manufacturing of millions of pieces; I don't see where an "order-of-magnitude" might come from even if we start manufacturing billions of computers.
So, Moore's law will be too fast in a short time (let's say 5 to 10 years). Before that, you can get rich one more time :-)

Re: It is becoming too fast ... by Cameron Purdy

1. Moore's law isn't a law. It's a marketing gimmick.

2. "Moore's law" changes every few years to fit reality.

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