Moore's law, the much-abused theory that the number of transistors that can be packed onto a single silicon chip will double approximately every two years, has just a decade left to run, according to physicist Michio Kaku.
"In about 10 years or so we will see the collapse of Moore's Law," predicted Kaku.
"In fact we already see a slowing down of Moore's Law. Computing power cannot maintain its rapid exponential rise using standard silicon technology," he said in a six-minute posting on Youtube.
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made his now-famous forecast in 1965 and it has held reasonably true ever since. However, copper on silicon technology is fast reaching its limits in terms of overheating and leakage, as transistors approach five nanometres and smaller in size, according to Kaku.
As these limits have been approached, microprocessor designers have been able to continue improving performance – if not the number of transistors – by integrating multiple cores and using tri-gate transistors, for example.
Kaku makes numerous further predictions in his latest book, Physics of the Future, in which he predicts driverless cars by 2020, synthetic human organs by 2030 and internet access by contact lens. "You will blink, and you will go online," he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview in March 2012.
Sometimes, the power of the mainframe is the most cost effective answer. Computing's Peter Gothard puts Computing's readers' questions on the future of the mainframe to IBM's Z13 expert Steven Dickens.
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