Is Moore’s Law dead?

Its death has frequently been predicted, but there was an interesting article in The Register recently pronouncing that Moore’s Law has finally turned up its toes.

Moore’s Law has seen us through five decades of rapid growth in computing power, but this article argues that the Meltdown and Spectre design flaws will put the nails in its coffin. As optimisation techniques can become security holes, goes the argument, we’ll need to take stock and slow down our rate of progress.

I’m not sure I buy the premise, but it’s thought-provoking. Doesn’t Moore’s Law say that the underlying power of computing chips keeps on growing, as they get more and more transistors? What the software engineers do with that power, and whether they can harness it usefully, is a different question. There’s plenty of other evidence that the rate of improvement of useful computing speeds is slowing down. For example, just to pick one random comparison, this comparison of iMac benchmarks shows only a 40% improvement over five years – way short of the Moore’s Law’s compound doubling.

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