Innovation in a Post Moore's Law World

  • Authors:
    Mark Horowitz (Stanford)
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    2384.009 (University of Michigan)


For the past half century the world has enjoyed the benefits of many innovations enabled by Moore’s Law scaling of silicon technology. While Intel claims that scaling is still healthy, most other organization see issues today, and many more issues ahead. Regardless of whether it has started to happen already, it will eventually stop, and that point is that far away.

This talk will quickly review the basics behind silicon scaling, the current power problem, and current approaches to continue Moore’s Law after scaling slows (think 3-D and new technologies). I will then describe why I am not optimistic about any of the new technologies rescuing Moore’s Law (though there has been some interesting progress on the quantum side), and why I think that computing will be CMOS based for the foreseeable future. The net effect, which already exists today, is that the value of electronic technology has moved from being technology driven to be application driven. In an application driven world, successful products include many "cupholders", small low cost additions that improve the user experience, so enabling them is essential.

The rest of the talk is my view of how the design process and the industry must adapt if it wants to continue to create high-value products. In application driven value scenarios, the technologies that win are those that have low development costs, since most ideas fail. This has profound ramifications for both how we design chips, and how we design systems using chips. In both areas we need to enable people to try to create new innovative hardware solutions and to do that requires create enough design scaffolding to enable the equivalents of Apple’s IStore/Google Play for hardware design.

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