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New generation iPhone adopts Intel baseband chip means Moore's law is about to end?
Source: Sanfang Xinli Microelectronics Release time: 2016-10-31
According to foreign media reports, last week Apple announced that it would use Intel ’s modem chips in the new iPhone, instead of using Qualcomm products. This is an important lesson about the computer industry, which means that Moore's Law, which the computer industry has long followed, is coming to an end.
At present, in the computer industry, the miniaturization of microprocessor chips, the heart of computers, has reached its limit, which is already an open secret within the industry. The smaller the equipment, the more sensitive it is to errors, and the higher the precision of the manufacturing process required, which is followed by rising manufacturing costs as a result of astronomical figures. Several major chip manufacturers in the industry have invested billions of dollars in the processor chip market for chip miniaturization and performance improvement, but with little effect. When the speed of computers no longer grows as fast as in the past, the rapid development of all technologies from virtual reality devices to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will become history, and machines are not likely to replace humans anytime soon.
In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made a bold prediction about the ability of a computer to run. He pointed out that when the price is unchanged, the number of components that can be accommodated on an integrated circuit will double approximately every 18-24 months, and performance will also double. Intel named it after Moore's Law.
We can take a piece of paper and fold it once, twice, three times ... the thickness of the paper doubles with each fold. If you can fold a piece of paper 42 times in half, it will be thicker than the distance from the earth to the moon. This is why today's iPhone has the computing power equivalent to the computing power of the entire lunar spacecraft in the 1965 Apollo Lunar Landing Program. Without Moore's Law, there would be no Google search, no Facebook social network, no taxi service Uber, and no life in today's fast-changing information age. And the entire Silicon Valley is just a valley.
But now, after 50 years of rapid development, Moore's Law is ending and the pace of computer development is gradually slowing down.
Four months ago, Intel also pointed out in a regulatory document that chip development is gradually slowing down. Its newly developed transistor is only 100 atoms wide. The smaller the number of atoms that make up a transistor, the more difficult it is to operate in manufacturing. If it is developing at the current speed, then by the beginning of 2020, the width of the transistor will be only 10 atoms. At this scale, the electronic properties of transistors will be broken by quantum uncertainty, which means that all electronic equipment will become unreliable. In other words, engineers and scientists have reached the limits of modern physics.
At present, technology companies such as Samsung, Microsoft and Intel have spent more than 37 billion to maintain Moore's Law. Silicon Valley analyst Linley Gwennap said, "From an economic perspective, Moore's Law is over."
Fortunately, raw computing power is not everything. The change in the automotive industry illustrates this. The electric vehicle company Tesla's Model S is no faster than Toyota's TM Lexus, but it has made tremendous innovations in electric engines, car battery packs and many other aspects. In the computer world, software development has not kept pace with the rapid development of hardware's computing power. Charles Simonyi, a computer technology expert responsible for Microsoft Word and Excel development, pointed out in 2013 that software development failed to take full advantage of the development of hardware, and the industry simply covered software design defects by the speed of hardware development.
With the end of Moore's Law, the semiconductor manufacturing industry will no longer have the clear line of planning every two years as before. The reform of the existing industry order will create a new era, the content of technological innovation will be more detailed, the degree of structure will be further reduced, and this kind of innovation will become more and more complicated. Software companies will test the hardware business, and hardware manufacturers will choose the right product applications. In fact, companies such as Facebook and Amazon are already building their own data centers, Microsoft is also starting to make its own chips, and Intel is also transforming mobile devices.
The 50-year legendary development of Moore's Law not only represents the efforts of generations in this world, but also an important lesson on the development of the industry. Industry competition is not like boxing. The market may be calm in normal times. But once reforms occur, new windows of opportunity will open.
The end of Moore's Law is not the end of the computer industry, but it will require the industry to develop better devices in new ways. Well-known physicist Hawking recently pointed out that "the emergence of super-intelligent machines will be the end of mankind." In this respect, this is good news because its arrival has been objectively postponed.
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