Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 53240
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2017/09/22 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

2009/8/5-13 [Transportation/Car, Transportation/Car/RoadHogs] UID:53240 Activity:kinda low
8/5     The Technium. Economics, needs, and physics-- is there an end to
        Moore's Law, or any other laws wrt to storage, bandwidth, megapixels?
        \_ Automobile MPGs don't follow Moore's Law.  Oh, the article already
           mentions this.
           \_ Maybe they just have a lower exponential coefficient.  Processor
              speed is like 1.5x per year, disk is like 2x as large per year,
              I've heard ram speed is like 1.25x per year (or something like
              that).  Maybe auto MPG is just like 1.001x per year.
              I saw another post where someone said auto efficiency has only
              gone up 3 mpg in 80 years.  If you take 1.001^80 = 1.0832...
              If we started at 30 mpg 80 years ago, 1.0832 x 30 ~= 32.5.  So
              it could follow Moore's slow Law. ;) -mrauser
              \_ um, you guys TOTALLY missed the whole point of the article.
                 Whatever law exists, exists for artificial reasons. The market,
                 economics, demand, and expectations from shareholders all
                 play a much bigger role than anything else. As for MPG,
                 it's been artificially low in the past few decades for
                 obvious reasons. Go American built SUV!
                 \_ My uncles ex-wife's brother-in-law has a device he
                    inserts into his carburetor that gives him 50MPG on a
                    68 Camaro. He says that it is top secret and that the
                    oil companies own the patent and destroyed all the the
                    copies though, except for the one he smuggled out.
                    \_ What degree does your brother-in-law have? High school?
                       People are stupid.
                       \_ He has a PhD in common sense, which is more than you
                          will ever have.
                    \_ 50 mpg, 200 mpg, 2000,mpg does it matter, you're still
                       using oil, duke.
              \_ Processor speed stopped increasing years ago.  Transistor
                 density continues at 2x / 18 mo.
2017/09/22 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

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In the early 1950s the same thought occurred to many people at once: things are improving so fast and so regularly, there might be a pattern to the improvements. Maybe we could plot technological progress to date, then extrapolate the curves and see what the future holds. Among the first to do this systemically was the US Air Force. They needed a long-term schedule of what kinds of planes they should be funding, but aerospace was one of the fastest moving frontiers in technology. Obviously they would build the fastest planes possible, but since it took decades to design, approve, and then deliver a new type of plane, the generals thought it prudent to glimpse what futuristic technologies they should be funding. Martino72-43 So in 1953 the Air Force Office of Scientific Research plotted out the history of the fastest air vehicles. The Wright Brothers' first flight reached 68 kph in 1903, and jumped to 60 kph two years later. The air speed record kept increasing a bit each year and in 1947 the fastest flight passed 1,000 kph in a Lockheed Shoot Star flown by Colonel Albert Boyd. The record was broken four times in 1953, ending with the F-100 Super Sabre doing 1, 215 kph. The curve said they could have machines that attained orbital speed... And they could get their payload right out of Earth's immediate gravity well just a little later. They could have satellites almost at once, the curve insinuated, and if they wished -- if they wanted to spend the money, and do the research and the engineering -- they could go to the Moon quite soon after that. It is important to remember that in 1953 none of the technology for these futuristic journeys existed. Even the most optimistic die-hard visionaries did not expect a lunar landing any sooner than the proverbial "Year 2000." The only voice telling them they could do it was a curve on a piece of paper. As Brokderick notes, humans arrived on the Moon "close to a third of century sooner than loony space travel buffs like Arthur C Clarke had expected it to occur." How did it account for the secretive efforts of the Russians as well as dozens of teams around the world? Was the curve a self-fulfilling prophesy, or a revelation of a trend rooted deep in the nature of the technium? The answer may lay in the many other trends plotted since then. The most famous of them all is the trend known as Moore's Law. In brief, Moore's Law predicts that computing chips shrink by half in size and cost every 18-24 months. This trend was first noticed in 1960 by Doug Englebart, a researcher at SRI in Palo Alto, California, who would later go on to invent the "windows and mouse" interface that is now ubiquitous on most computers. When he first started as an engineer Englebart worked in the aerospace industry testing airplane models in wind tunnels where he learned how systematic scaling down led to all kinds of benefits and unexpected consequences. Englebart imagined how the benefits of scaling down, or as he called it "similitude," might transfer to a new invention SRI was tracking -- multiple transistors on one integrated silicon chip. Perhaps as they were made smaller, circuits too might deliver a similar kind of similitude magic: The smaller a chip, the better. Englebart presented his ideas on similitude to an audience of engineers at the 1960 Solid State Circuits Conference that included Gordon Moore, a researcher at Fairchild Semiconductor. In the following years Moore began tracking the actual statistics of the earliest prototype chips. By 1964 he had enough data points to extrapolate the slope of the curve so far. But as Moore recalls, I was not alone in making projections. Several of the panelists made predictions about the semiconductor industry. Patrick Haggerty of Texas Instruments, looking approximately ten years out, forecast that the industry would produce 750 million logic gates a year. I thought that was perceptive but a huge number, and puzzled, "Could we actually get to something like that?" Harry Knowles from Westinghouse, who was considered the wild man of the group, said, "We're going to get 250,000 logic gates on a single wafer." At the time, my colleagues and I at Fairchild were struggling to produce just a handful. C Lester Hogan of Motorola looked at expenses and said, "The cost of a fully processed wafer will be $10." If Haggerty were on target, the industry would produce 750 million logic gates a year. Using Knowles's "wild" figure of 250,000 logic gates per wafer meant that the industry would only use 3,000 wafers for this total output. If Hogan was correct, and the cost per processed wafer was $10, that would mean that the total manufacturing cost to produce the yearly output of the semiconductor industry would be $30,000! As it turned out, the person who was the "most wrong" was Haggerty, the panelist I considered the most perceptive. His prediction of the number of logic gates that would be used turned out to be a ridiculously large underestimation. On the other hand, the industry actually achieved what Knowles foresaw, while I had labeled his suggestion as the ridiculous one. Even Hogan's forecast of $10 for a processed wafer was close to the mark, if you allow for inflation and make a cost-per-square-centimeter calculation. The trends were telling them something no one else was, impossible as it seemed. Moore kept adding data points as the semiconductor industry grew. He was tracking all kinds of parameters -- number of transistors made, cost per transistor, number of pins, logic speed, and components per wafer. But one of them was cohering into a nice curve: The number of components per chip. In 1965, at the invitation from the editor of the trade journal Electronics, Moore wrote a piece on "the future of microelectronics." In this short article he pointed out the curve of progress in chip fabrication is increasing by a exponential power every year. As Moore noted in his internal memo to the Fairchild patent officers, he took current trend and "extrapolated into the wild blue yonder." Moore's original plot Moore hooked up with Carver Mead, a fellow Caltech alumnus. Mead was an electrical engineer and early transistor expert. In 1967 Moore asked Mead what kind of theoretical limits were in store for microelectronic miniaturization. Mead had no idea but as he did his calculations he made an amazing discovery: The efficiency of the chip would increase by the cube of the scale's reduction. Microelectronics would not only become cheaper, they would also become better. As Moore puts it "By making things smaller, everything gets better simultaneously. The speed of our products goes up, the power consumption goes down, system reliability improves by leaps and bounds, but especially the cost of doing things drops as a result of the technology." Carver Mead was so caught up in Moore's curves that he began to formalize them with physics equations and he named the trend Moore's Law. He became an evangelist for the idea, traveling to electronics companies, the military, and academics preaching that the future of electronics lay in ever-smaller blocks of silicon, and trying to "convince people that it really was possible to scale devices and get better performance and lower power" -- and that there was no end in sight for this trend. "Every time I'd go out on the road," Mead recalls, "I'd come to Gordon and get a new version of his plot." Pricetransistor Today when we stare at the plot of Moore's Law we can spot several striking characteristics of its 50 year run. The first surprise is that this is a picture of acceleration. The straight line descending slope of the "curve" indicates a ten fold increase in goodness for every tick on vertical log axis. Silicon computation is not simply getting better, but getting better faster. Relentless acceleration for five decades is rare in biology and unknown in the technium before this century. So this graph is as much about the phenomenon of cultural acceleration as about silicon chips. In fact Moore's Law has come to represent the principle of an accelerating future which underpins our expectations of the technium: the world of the made gets better, faster...