Saturday, 8 March 2014

Faster Computers

Faster Computers

  In 20 years computer chips will be about 15,000 times more potent than the processors that power today's cutting edge personal computers. Tomorrow's typical desktop computer will finish in an hour a task that today would keep our most powerful desktop computers running 24 hours a day for two years.
How? For one thing, engineers will be able to pack more circuit elements more efficiently on tiny chips. This allows data to move between the circuit elements faster.
A computer program consists of an enormous list of minute steps early computer chips processed instructions one at a time until the program was complete. It was a lot like trying to move the entire population of New York City through a single subway turnstile.
In recent years computer engineers have worked out ways around that bottleneck. ''Pipeline'' processors move several instructions through the system at once opening more turnstiles. ''Superscalar processors can perform several instructions at once in effect stuffing several people thorough each turnstile at the same time. Both processing techniques multiply the machine's speed. Current processors carry out there to six instructions at one time. In 20 years the number is likely to be several dozen. These incremental advances alone will make tomorrow's computers several hundred times more powerful.
  We are less optimistic about parallel processing another strategy from which researchers have long expected much greater advances in computing speed. This technique aims to break a problem into many smaller tasks, perform each one simultaneously on its own processor, and then recombine he results of the individual computations into a single answer. In theory this should be the ultimate upgrade.
However distributing each program among many processors has proved to be almost as hard as passing one of our New Yorkers through several turnstiles at once. It is difficult enough to separate most computing problems into easy to process fragments and that is only the first hurdle that programmers face. Distributing those many parts to individual processors keeping the sub computers in step with each other and then reassembling their answers into one grand result has proved all but impossible save for those few specialized chores that lend themselves to subdivision. These problems will not be solved until some one achieves the kind of conceptual break thorough whose appearance no one can predict. We suspect that programmers will still be struggling with them 20 years from now.

New Kinds Of Computers
On the other hand even the most super and then some computers that engineers come up with already be obsolete. The true break through technologies will be ones that give us totally new kinds of computers that are faster certainly but that also handle certain kinds of problems more efficiently or that could be built at a price that would put one in almost everyone's pocket.

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