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Science Technology

The Ultimate Limit of Moore's Law 418

Posted by kdawson
from the double-double dept.
BuzzSkyline writes "Physicists have found that there is an ultimate limit to the speed of calculations, regardless of any improvements in technology. According to the researchers who found the computation limit, the bound 'poses an absolute law of nature, just like the speed of light.' While many experts expect technological limits to kick in eventually, engineers always seem to find ways around such roadblocks. If the physicists are right, though, no technology could ever beat the ultimate limit they've calculated — which is about 10^16 times faster than today's fastest machines. At the current Moore's Law pace, computational speeds will hit the wall in 75 to 80 years. A paper describing the analysis, which relies on thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and information theory, appeared in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters (abstract here)."
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The Ultimate Limit of Moore's Law

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:41PM (#29737671) Journal

    Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted 40 years ago that manufacturers could double computing speed every two years or so
    by cramming ever-tinier transistors on a chip.

    That's not exactly correct. Moore's Law (or observation more like) reads in the original article as [intel.com]:

    The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year ... Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. That means by 1975, the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost will be 65,000. I believe that such a large circuit can be built on a single wafer.

    All he's concerned about is quoting how many components can fit on a single integrated circuit. One can see this propagated to processing speed, memory capacity, sensors and even the number and size of pixels in digital cameras but his observation itself is about the size of transistors -- not speed.

    The title should be "The Ultimate Limit of Computing Speed" not Moore's Law.

    Furthermore, we've always had Planck Time [wikipedia.org] as a lower bound on the time of one operation with our smallest measurement of time so far being 10^26 Planck Times. So essentially they've bumped that lower bound up and it's highly likely more discoveries will bump that even further up. I guess our kids and grandchildren have their work cut out for them.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:55PM (#29737929) Journal
      Basically he is assuming that eventually we will develop quantum computing, and based his calculation on the theory of how fast a quantum event can take place. The problem is, given all we don't actually know about quantum mechanics, and all we don't know about super-small things, all it would take is a single observation to throw this minimum out the window.

      In theory, it is nice to make theoretical limits. In practice, the limits are sometimes nothing more than theoretical. We don't know how to make smaller-than-quantum computers yet, but we also don't know how to make quantum computers yet. So this could be a prediction like every other prediction of the end of Moore's law, some of which were based on stronger reasoning than this argument. Interesting argument to make, though.
      • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:30PM (#29738421) Journal
        "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is." - Yogi Berra (iirc)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Get this through your head: If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings. What? Oh. Never mind.
      • by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday October 14, 2009 @08:35AM (#29743757)

        The problem is, given all we don't actually know about quantum mechanics, and all we don't know about super-small things, all it would take is a single observation to throw this minimum out the window.

        You make it sound as if all of quantum mechanics is unreliable and stuff we don't know. In reality there are plenty of quantum mechanical limitations that are likely on as solid footing as other fundamental limits like conservation of energy, momentum and the second law of thermodynamics.

        Take Heisenberg's uncertainty relation as an example. There may be things we don't fully understand about quantum mechanical phenomena ( such as wave function collapse ) , but I would not hold my breath waiting for a breakthrough which allow accurately measuring a particle's position and momentum. Likewise I would not expect to see two fermions occupy the same quantum state ( and thereby violate the pauli exclusion principle ) any time soon, nor would I expect the de-Broglie wavelength of a particle to be anything other than h/p.

        I think part of the reason a lot of people seem to think QM is some unreliable theory that we don't really understand is simply ignorance of how fundamental it is to modern physics. Put it this way, without QM we would not have solid state physics, which is what chip designers rely on making the CPU I'm using to write this. We would not have LEDs or Lasers for the optic communications used in many internet backbones, and we would not have nuclear reactors to power the whole thing ( The stability of a nuclear reactor relies on two phenomena Doppler Broadening and the tendency of Neutron cross sections to change with neutron energy. Both of these are QM phenomena.)

        Basically saying "it's just a theory" is as much a naive criticism of Quantum Mechanics as it is a naive criticism of Evolution. It may not be absolute truth ( physical theories in general are not ) , but it very much is the best available description of nature we have and it is certainly more reliable than assuming without good reason that theory will not agree with practice.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @06:25PM (#29738975) Homepage

      All he's concerned about is quoting how many components can fit on a single integrated circuit. One can see this propagated to processing speed, memory capacity, sensors and even the number and size of pixels in digital cameras but his observation itself is about the size of transistors -- not speed.

      The title should be "The Ultimate Limit of Computing Speed" not Moore's Law.

      Meh.

      While technically correct, the performance corollary of Moore's Law -- which is roughly "more transistors generally means smaller and thus faster transistors rather than exploding die sizes, plus more to do computation with, so performance also increases exponentially, and we observe that this is the case" -- is strong enough that it's often simply called Moore's Law even among the engineers in the chip design industry. It's just understood what you're talking about, even though the time constant is different.

      You'll occasionally see Intel (the company Moore founded) show charts with historical performance and future projections, and they'll include a line labeled "Moore's Law" to show how they're doing relative to the observation. Because technically it is just an observation, and it holds true only to the extent that engineers of the computer, electrical, and material science variety bust their asses to make it true.

      So maybe the layman thinks Moore's Law is about performance, and that's not technically true, but it's correct enough that even the engineers directly affected by it refer to it as if it meant performance. So I say the the title is fine.

  • WHAT!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by cryoman23 (1646557)
    so in 80 years my computers processors wont be able to get any faster... :( o well then i guess its time to CLUSTER!
    • Re:WHAT!! (Score:5, Funny)

      by outsider007 (115534) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:45PM (#29737755)

      I plan on setting up server farms in parallel dimensions

    • I would expect that (if this is true) then the exponential rate of performance increases processor to processor will decrease, or to put it another way: you'll see diminishing returns on your processor improvements that will keep putting that 80 year figure further into the future.

      Is anyone who understands this sort of stuff commenting? This sounds like it'll be regarded as quite an important discovery.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iamhassi (659463)
      "so in 80 years my computers processors wont be able to get any faster"

      looks like we've almost reached that point now. We've had Xeon 3.0GHz cpus for over 5 years now [archive.org], and they're still coming out with brand new 3ghz processors [slashdot.org]. That's a long time to not see a jump in speed, what happened to "doubling every 18 months"? We should be around 24ghz by now.
      • Re:WHAT!! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Straterra (1045994) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @06:29PM (#29739009)

        looks like we've almost reached that point now. We've had Xeon 3.0GHz cpus for over 5 years now [archive.org], and they're still coming out with brand new 3ghz processors [slashdot.org]. That's a long time to not see a jump in speed, what happened to "doubling every 18 months"? We should be around 24ghz by now.

        Sorry, Performance != Clockspeed

        I, for one, am glad Intel went away from modeling their processors after their clockspeed. They went to an actual model for this reason. If you want an example where they didn't, and lower clock speed processors kept up just go back and look at the 423/427 Pentium 4's vs the Socket A Athlons (XP, ect)

      • Re:WHAT!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @06:31PM (#29739027) Homepage

        looks like we've almost reached that point now. We've had Xeon 3.0GHz cpus for over 5 years now, and they're still coming out with brand new 3ghz processors. That's a long time to not see a jump in speed, what happened to "doubling every 18 months"? We should be around 24ghz by now.

        Performance != MHz.

        Those 3GHz Pentium 4 Xeons suck balls compared to even a Core 2, forget about an i7.

        The only way the P4 got to what were at the time extremely high frequencies was by having a craptastic architecture. It was driven by marketing, which when the P4 was released was all about MHz. People thought MHz == Performance, so they cranked up the MHz for minimal gain in performance. AMD tried like hell to convince people otherwise, but fat lot of good it seemed to do. And now Intel is suffering for their previous emphasis on MHz over all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Burning1 (204959)

          To be fair, back in the day of the 386 and 486, AMD processors were essentially clones of their Intel counterparts. The only real difference between the AMD and Intel offerings was bus speed, processor speed, and external clock multiplier.

          When the Pentium was eventually launched, AMD no longer produced a direct clone, and started releasing their processors with 'Performance Rating' (PR) numbers instead of clock speed, effectively claiming that their K5 processors were as efficient as a higher clocked Pentiu

          • Re:WHAT!! (Score:4, Informative)

            by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @08:01PM (#29739729) Homepage

            To be fair, back in the day of the 386 and 486, AMD processors were essentially clones of their Intel counterparts. The only real difference between the AMD and Intel offerings was bus speed, processor speed, and external clock multiplier.

            Well at the time AMD was literally a "second source" supplier because back then companies like IBM actually cared about that sort of thing. I don't think AMDvsIntel really mattered a lot, since nobody knew of AMD's existence. Hell, I owned two computers with AMD processors and didn't know it until over a decade later.

            When the Pentium was eventually launched, AMD no longer produced a direct clone, and started releasing their processors with 'Performance Rating' (PR) numbers instead of clock speed, effectively claiming that their K5 processors were as efficient as a higher clocked Pentium.

            I've heard AMDers call the K5 "the highest IPC x86 part ever", with a wry smirk because just like how MHz isn't everything, neither is IPC, and it never lived up to those Markethertz numbers in terms of real performance.

            Funnily enough the Pentium showed the weakness of MHz as a raw metric without taking AMD into account. When the Pentium 60 and 75 were released, there were 486 DX4 100s (okay these were actually made by AMD but like I said who knew or cared?), and the P-75 was a better performer. Granted most of my friends were nerds, but many of them understood this concept back then.

            I'd say AMD and the 486 compatible market had as much responsibility for the MHz war as intel.

            To be sure, AMD only started talking about overall performance instead of just MHz when it started to hurt them. Forget the 486, in the P3 vs K7 days it was all about clock speed and the race to 1GHz. Sure, the architectures were still fairly similar and thus somewhat comparable by clock speed, but that hardly told the whole story.

            It's taken a while for the market to get passed comparisons based on clock speed, and I'm glad to see the performance rating numbers dropped.

            They're only semi-dropped. They were still used as relative-frequency indicators relative to Intel's offering from the K7 Palomino through most of the life of K8. Now that the P4 was dropped, and Intel switched to a completely opaque numbering scheme, AMD has switched to a non-comparison-based numbering scheme as well.

            MHz is still a valuable comparison tool, but people seem to understand that you can only compare clock speed within a family of processors.

            Yeah if you don't count the person I first replied to. :P

  • Efficiency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:45PM (#29737763) Homepage Journal

    So we'll have to wait another 75 years before management lets us focus on application efficiency instead of throwing hardware at the performance problems? Sigh...

    • by belthize (990217)

      Meh, I'll be dead by then anyway.

      Thank God, I don't think I could deal with kids preening about their new zaptastic whiz bang they just bought off New Egg 70+ years from now as if they had invented the damn thing.

      If by some chance I am alive then, I better have made a killing off of NewEgg's IPO.

    • In the meantime just keep putting redundant statements in endlessly nested loops, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)

      So we'll have to wait another 75 years before management lets us focus on application efficiency instead of throwing hardware at the performance problems? Sigh...

      No, you still won't be doing performance optimizations if that's not what makes the most money...

    • by jcoy42 (412359)

      Note to parent: don't show this article to management.

  • by adriccom (44869) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:47PM (#29737779) Homepage

    about the nature of computation and lightspeed and the like as explored in the wonderful novel A Fire Upon The Deep (Zones of Thought) [amazon.com]

    in which the universe has depth and the depth determines how fast things can go including neural tissue, computation, and intergalactic travel. I have long suspected that Earth is towards the shallow end ...

  • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:49PM (#29737813) Journal
    This isn't like the speed of light, it is quite possibly the reason for it.
  • by suso (153703) * on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:50PM (#29737835) Homepage Journal

    Eh, let's let the singularity first, then we'll let the robots take care of the problem.

  • by jopet (538074) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:51PM (#29737843) Journal

    and no exponential growth can go on for just a comparatively very short time. This should be self-evident, but for some reason, people seem to ignore that. Especially people who call themselves journalists or economists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076)

      and no exponential growth can go on for just a comparatively very short time. This should be self-evident, but for some reason, people seem to ignore that. Especially people who call themselves journalists or economists.

      As far as we know the expansion of the universe and entropy will go on forever.

      I doubt that is what you mean though...

      Self contained systems do have limits unless of course they are self recursive and halo-graphic.

      Like fractals and information...

      Economies and ecosystems are not.

  • I figure it will be sort of like the netbook war of today. Manufactures will realize that there isn't much of a way to get faster so they will start concentrating on design, reliability and lifespan. It will probably be a golden age in computing.

    I'm just waiting for a peta-hertz computer with a 500 exabyte hard-drive able to do universe simulations in real time that will fit in my pocket, go 100 years on a charge and be indestructible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Just remember, though, that performing any universe simulations that evolve to include copyrighted works will be a capital offense by the time such hardware is available...
    • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @09:31PM (#29740371)

      I'm just waiting for a peta-hertz computer with a 500 exabyte hard-drive able to do universe simulations in real time that will fit in my pocket

      It is impossible to simulate the universe. This is pretty easy to prove. If it was possible, using some device, to simulate the universe, then it is not actually necessary to simulate the universe -- we only need simulate the device which simulates the universe, since the device is necessarily contained within the universe. This should be easier, because the device itself is much smaller than the entire universe.

      But if simulating the device which simulates the universe, is equivalent to simulating the universe, then that would mean that the complete set of states which define the universe can actually be represented by some subset of those very same states -- the subset of states which describe the device which is being used to simulate the universe. In other words, the universe is a set such that if you remove some subset of states you end up with the same set again. I hope you can see how this is a logical impossibility.

  • What is the limit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:51PM (#29737853) Journal

    So what is that limit? What units would you express such a limit in? The fundamental unit of information is a bit, what is the fundamental unit of computation? Would you state that rate in "computations per second"? "Computations per second per cm^3"? "computations per second per gram?"

    I checked out the pdf of the paper, and didn't see any numerical limit stated, just equations.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:13PM (#29738173)

      A more practical question: how many bits does my encryption key need now to make brute force cracking impractical for the fastest computer possible in this Universe (i.e probability of finding the key within my remaining lifespan 0.0001% (1 in a million))?

      And not involving a system that reduces my lifespan, such as one failed attempt kills me, smart-ass.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Speed of light.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      2.56 × 10^47 bits per second per gram Ref: Bremermann's limit [wikipedia.org]
      • by Hatta (162192) *

        So a bit is a unit of computation as well as a unit of information? How do you determine how many bits you need to do a computation? Lets say, 1 + 1 = 2 (or 10), how many bits is that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by physburn (1095481)
      The paper referenced above is at arXiv [arxiv.org], and doesn't give a maximum computer speed per see. It just proves that a quantum running at R computational steps per second, will generate Q = hR^2, of heat, where h is plancks constant. The other limits was that R < 4E/h, where E is the average energy of the system. You might get a maximum computing speed out of this, but only if you have a fundamental limit to how fast you can cool the computer. Not sure where the're fundamental limit come from if not in the abo
  • by wb8wsf (106309) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:52PM (#29737865)

    Though there might be a limit on how fast a computation can go, I would think that
    parallel systems will boost that far beyond whatever limit there may be. If we crash
    into a boundary, multiple systems--or hundreds of thousands of them--will continue
    the upward trend.

          I suppose there is also the question of whether 10^16 more computing power "ought
    to be enough for anybody". ;-)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:58PM (#29737979)

      Parallel computing won't help.
      There's a limit to how fast your compute subsystems can exchange data as well.

    • by stevelinton (4044)

      The limit is on the amount of computation you can do per gram per second. Unless your computer was VERY VERY dense and compact (close to being a black hole, in fact) then it would have to be parallel to achieve this limit.

  • We're already hitting clock speed "brownouts", and using parallel processing to get around them. To really tell where the limits are you need to look at how small you can make a processor (best case, something like say one bit per Planck length) and how much latency you can afford as information propagates from processor to processor at the speed of light or less.

  • Reminds me of a joke (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jcoy42 (412359) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @04:58PM (#29737961) Homepage Journal

    A scientist and an engineer are lead into a room. They are asked to stand on one side. On the opposite side is Treasure (or delicious cake if you please).

    They are told that they may have the prize if they can reach it, however they may never go more than half the distance between them and it.

    The scientist balks claiming it is obviously impossible as he can NEVER reach the prize and leaves the room. The engineer shrugs, and walks halfway to the prize 10 times or so, says "close enough" and takes it.

    So I guess we'll just see, eh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And a mathematician would stand for a moment, calculate the limit, and then run fullspeed into the wall.

    • You need to be thinking with portals.
    • by IorDMUX (870522)
      Very true.

      ... though every version I have ever heard of the joke/tale replaced "Treausre" with "attractive woman". This was partially due to the (sadly) male-only content of my graduate-level EE classes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nick_davison (217681)

      And were the engineer a hacker, he'd pick up the scientist, carry him half way across the room, set him down and say, "Your turn."

      The game changing hackers are the ones who don't listen to the conventional logic of the time and figure out how to wander along a totally different axis that the "experts" hadn't thought of yet.

      Look at Wolfenstein/Doom. 3D graphics "weren't possible" on home computers at the time. John Carmack turned it in to a 2D solution and solved it anyway. Perhaps not perfect in every regar

    • The scientist would not give up so easily.

      The scientist would simply say that the wave function of the cake already overlaps with his wave function and take the cake.

    • Doesn't this joke originally have a third person? He is a mathematician, and dies inside the room. They find a piece of paper with him, with "Let's first assume I can reach the treasure/cake..." written on it.

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:00PM (#29738003)

    At the current rate of progress, so to speak, no one will be able to afford a computer that runs 10^16 times faster than current systems. Even as a gamer, I'm already leery of buying any of the newer video cards and CPU setups, after reviewing the cost in electricity needed to run them for a year compared to my existing system - they use somewhere around 4 times the electricity!

    I can understand fitting more transistors onto a chipset, and more chipsets onto a system, but even with nanotech and similar technologies, I don't see much chance for each transistor to use proportionally less electricity to allow 10^16 more of them to be running at once. You'd have to run a conductance cable to the sun to get that kind of power.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Actually, much of the newer components available are far more efficient than their predecessors in terms of power usage.
      Compare Intel's newer processors to the Pentium 4 and you'll see gains in both computing power and power efficiency [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:01PM (#29738013)

    that the ultimate limit is the processes that the universe itself uses to "compute" its own state? That we can only ever asymptotically approach this limit? Once we hit the limit, our computations cease being simulations and become reality.

  • I figure that - even if we find the dilithium crystals - we'd need really fast computers to handle space flights, transporter beams, instant food generators, doors that go "shh!" and warp drive.

    I guess it is all just fiction after all.
    • If you ignore the teleporter and holodeck I'm sure everything in star trek could be run on a decently optimized modern computer.
  • by line-bundle (235965) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:07PM (#29738109) Homepage Journal

    I RTFA but there is nothing in the article. Only talk of 75 years...

    I remember one way to get an upper limit on frequency is using the equation E=hf, the Planck-Einstein relation. For a given amount of energy you can only get so much frequency. But this was a million years ago in my physics class.

  • PDF on arxiv (Score:3, Informative)

    by sugarmotor (621907) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:16PM (#29738201) Homepage

    Thermodynamic cost of reversible computing
    thermo-arxiv
    February 1, 2008
    Lev B. Levitin and Tommaso Toffoli

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0701237v2 [arxiv.org]

    Not sure it is the same as in the Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 110502 (2007) -- linked from the article -- which is from 2007

    Stephan

    • by BitterOak (537666)

      Not sure it is the same as in the Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 110502 (2007) -- linked from the article -- which is from 2007

      The abstract is the same, so it appears to be the same paper.

      I haven't read the article all the way through yet. Do the authors take in to account the possibility of optical or quantum computers?

  • by imgod2u (812837) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:17PM (#29738231) Homepage

    We've been at roughly ~200ps per circuit operation for quite some time and yet processors are still getting faster. Parallel computation, what a novel idea.

  • of Moore's law. Moore's law has to to with the cost of a number of transistor in a given space of silicon.

    There are practical limits we are running into that are getting harder and harder to solve.
    We are approaching the point where 1 particle of metal per billion and ruin a fab process.
    In order to bypass that, we will need to self contained fabs; which would have an even more limited lifecycle the current fabs.

    This means the cost of chips could rise dramatically. I don't think many people are going to spend

  • As usual, Zen is ignored. They don't take into account that when nothing happens that can also be your computation (accuracy -> oo).

    Stephan

  • Constrained Freedom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:36PM (#29738463) Journal

    per TFabstract: "errors that appear as a result of the interaction of the information-carrying system with uncontrolled degrees of freedom must be corrected."

    Would not quantum teleportation via entanglement provide a means of distributing computation to include massively parallel? Quantum teleportation would provide a constraint that would redefine the problem by redefining the environment (ie. uncontrolled degrees of freedom). Replace Moore's Law with Bell's Theorem.

    And does not quantum computing operate on all possible states, with the answer inherent in the wave function? Spew out the entangled qubits as needed and let them fight it out as a quantum form of Swarm.

    If a result can be obtained this way, you may still have a problem with simultaneity -- the answer may arrive "before" the question, making it impossible to decode. However the problem then becomes a limitation of spacetime's ability to pass definitive information, and the limit of computation itself if such exists and/or can be measured in this context becomes moot. Being able to error trace via backtrack is similarly hampered but for the same reason and would still be possible post hoc.

    But if a computational system is devised that can operate on such principles, and it is to be used for practical calculations, be aware that any defining of arguments will be restricted to the input end and results for comparison and decision making may not yet be available for such decisions (assuming a reasonable latitude of autonomous action). In which case, make sure you teach it phenomenology *before* putting it to work.

  • Yeah, until I hit the Turbo(tm) button! 11^16, baby! 11, because that's one more, isn't it?

  • It is imaginable that through some of that quantum black magic all possible answers are calculated instantaneously and the correct one selected at the same time and delivered upon query. The bottleneck in that would be the speed in which the question can be presented.

  • by caseih (160668) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @05:53PM (#29738675)

    So the solution is very obvious. Just put the entire computer in subspace field that creates a pocket of reality where the speed of light is faster (many times faster). Course you then have to have some mechanism for speeding up and slowing down data coming in the ODN conduits. It's been commonly done since the early 24th century. All of these pesky "limits" can be worked around with some fancy level-three diagnostics.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sabt-pestnu (967671)

      I recall a short story of a "US vs USSR" style chess championship (or "Deep Blue" vs another computer...). Each side put up their best computer for the contest.

      One side had an ace in the hole, though... they had developed a field that sped up the passage of time. Set a computer in it, and it could calculate all possible moves from a given position in a reasonable amount of time.

      So:

      Our heros' computer made an opening move.
      The foe's computer, able to calculate all possible moves from that position, resign

  • I hate it when they do that. "this is the limit" really means "based on our current understanding of what's available, this is the limit" -- that's great for the present tense, and it's total garbage for the future tense -- not that english has a future tense, and this is precisely the reason.

    But that's fine. 75 years huh? There's a very slim possibility that I'll still be here to point and laugh in their face in 75 years. But there's a virtual guarantee that I be able to point and laugh in their face

  • Even when you hit the limit you can add more cpus / other helper chips.

    Right now lot of stuff is started to be coded to use many cores / cups / gpu + cpu.

  • Yup, back in the 80s the physicists said it would be physically impossible to provide switching and encoding which would allow phone line communication to exceed 2400 baud in modems. Yet before we gave up on phone lines, the modem builders were giving us 56,000 baud connections.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @06:04PM (#29738793) Journal

    The physics folks might have worked out some interesting details here but that's all it is interesting. The engineers have already moved on. Its not about getting smaller and going faster has largely past the point of diminishing returns already. There are few applications the digital logic we have today can't perform within time constraints. Even our jet fighters are practically flying themselves. In fact our computing machines are so fast we starting to struggle justifying their applications on anyone task not because they are to expensive this time but because they are so fast that their just idle most of the time anyway. Virtualization is more or less going back to time sharing without the pain. Its about doing more at the same time now, hence all the milti-core chips.

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.

Working...