This is the third entry of a series focused on Moore’s Law and its implications moving forward, edited from a White paper on Moore’s Law, written by Google University Relations Manager Michel Benard. This series quotes major sources about Moore’s Law and explores how they believe Moore’s Law will likely continue over the course of the next several years. We will also explore if there are fields other than digital electronics that either have an emerging Moore's Law situation, or promises for such a Law that would drive their future performance.


More Moore
We examine data from the ITRS 2012 Overall Roadmap Technology Characteristics (ORTC 2012), and select notable interpolations; The chart below shows chip size trends up to the year 2026 along with the “Average Moore’s Law” line. Additionally, in the ORTC 2011 tables we find data on 3D chip layer increases (up to 128 layers), including costs. Finally, the ORTC 2011 index sheet estimates that the DRAM cost per bit at production will be ~0.002 microcents per bit by ~2025. From these sources we draw three More Moore (MM) extrapolations, that by the year 2025:

  • 4Tb Flash multi-level cell (MLC) memory will be in production
  • There will be ~100 billion transistors per microprocessing unit (MPU)
  • 1TB RAM Memory will cost less than $100

More than Moore
It should be emphasized that “More than Moore” (MtM) technologies do not constitute an alternative or even a competitor to the digital trend as described by Moore’s Law. In fact, it is the heterogeneous integration of digital and non-digital functionalities into compact systems that will be the key driver for a wide variety of application fields. Whereas MM may be viewed as the brain of an intelligent compact system, MtM refers to its capabilities to interact with the outside world and the users.

As such, functional diversification may be regarded as a complement of digital signal and data processing in a product. This includes the interaction with the outside world through sensors and actuators and the subsystem for powering the product, implying analog and mixed signal processing, the incorporation of passive and/or high-voltage components, micro-mechanical devices enabling biological functionalities, and more. While MtM looks very promising for a variety of diversification topics, the ITRS study does not give figures from which “solid” extrapolations can be made. However, we can make safe/not so safe bets going towards 2025, and examine what these extrapolations mean in terms of the user.

Today we have a 1TB hard disk drives (HDD) for $100, but the access speed to data on the disk does not allow to take full advantage of this data in a fully interactive, or even practical, way. More importantly, the size and construction of HDD does not allow for their incorporation into mobile devices, Solid state drives (SSD), in comparison, have similar data transfer rates (~1Gb/s), latencies typically 100 times less than HDD, and have a significantly smaller form factor with no moving parts. The promise of offering several TB of flash memory, cost effectively by 2025, in a device carried along during the day (e.g. smartphone, watch, clothing, etc.) represents a paradigm shift with regard of today’s situation; it will empower the user by moving him/her from an environment where local data needs to be refreshed frequently (as with augmented reality applications) to a new environment where full contextual data will be available locally and refreshed only when critically needed.

If data is pre-loaded in the order of magnitude of TBs, one will be able to get a complete contextual data set loaded before an action or a movement, and the device will dispatch its local intelligence to the user during the progress of the action, regardless of network availability or performance. This opens up the possibility of combining local 3D models and remote inputs, allowing applications like 3D conferencing to become available. The development and use of 3D avatars could even facilitate many social interaction models. To benefit from such applications the use of personal devices such as Google Glass may become pervasive, allowing users to navigate 3D scenes and environments naturally, as well as facilitating 3D conferencing and their “social” interactions.

The opportunities for more discourse on the impact and future of Moore’s Law on CS and other disciplines are abundant, and can be continued with your comments on the Research at Google Google+ page. Please join, and share your thoughts.