from the I-thought-you-were-dead dept.
When Nvidia rolled out its new RTX 40-series graphics cards earlier this week, many gamers and industry watchers were a bit shocked at the asking prices the company was putting on its latest top-of-the-line hardware. New heights in raw power also came with new heights as far as MSRP, which falls in the $899 to $1,599 range for the 40-series cards.
When asked about those price increases, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang told the gathered press to, in effect, get used to it. "Moore's law is dead," Huang said during a Q&A, as reported by Digital Trends. "A 12-inch wafer is a lot more expensive today. The idea that the chip is going to go down in price is a story of the past."
[...] Generational price comparisons aside, Huang's blanket assertion that "Moore's law is dead" is a bit shocking for a company whose bread and butter has been releasing graphics cards that roughly double in comparable processing power every year. But the prediction is far from a new one, either for Huang—who said the same thing in 2019 and 2017—or for the wider industry—the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors formally announced it would stop chasing the benchmark in its 2016 roadmap for chip development.
[...] As Kevin Kelly laid out in a 2009 piece, though, Moore's law is best understood not as a law of physics but as a law of economics and corporate motivation. Processing power keeps doubling partly because consumers expect it to keep doubling and finding uses for that extra power.
That consumer demand, in turn, pushes companies to find new ways to keep pace with expectations. In the recent past, that market push led to innovations like tri-gate 3D transistors and production process improvements that continually shrink the size of individual transistors, which IBM can now push out at just 2 nm.
The point here is that Huang's purported "death of Moore's law" isn't entirely up to Nvidia. Even if Nvidia can no longer keep its processor power increases on trend at consistent prices, they're not the only game in town. AMD, for instance, is already teasing that its soon-to-be-announced RDNA 3 cards could sport some larger-than-expected improvements in efficiency and overall processing power, thanks to some new chiplet-based designs.
While it's much too soon to say how AMD and Nvidia's new chips will compare, this is the kind of market competition that has traditionally kept hardware makers from becoming too complacent in the push toward new frontiers of relative hardware power (see also: Apple Silicon versus previous Intel-based Macintoshes). In other words, even if Nvidia can't figure out how to keep up with Moore's law these days, someone else might.
Or is this just nVidia hype?
Intel Unveils Plan to 'Propel Moore's Law Beyond 2025'
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger Says Moore's Law is Back
Please, No Moore: 'Law' That Defined How Chips were made is no Longer True
Another Step Toward the End of Moore's Law
Death Notice: Moore's Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018
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Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd
Hammered by the finance of physics and the weaponisation of optimisation, Moore's Law has hit the wall, bounced off - and reversed direction. We're driving backwards now: all things IT will become slower, harder and more expensive.
That doesn't mean there won't some rare wins - GPUs and other dedicated hardware have a bit more life left in them. But for the mainstay of IT, general purpose computing, last month may be as good as it ever gets.
Going forward, the game changes from "cheaper and faster" to "sleeker and wiser". Software optimisations - despite their Spectre-like risks - will take the lead over the next decades, as Moore's Law fades into a dimly remembered age when the cornucopia of process engineering gave us everything we ever wanted.
From here on in, we're going to have to work for it.
It's well past the time that we move from improving performance by increasing clock speeds and transistor counts; it's been time to move on to increasing performance wherever possible by writing better parallel processing code.
At the end of March, two semiconductor manufacturing titans climbed another rung on the ladder of Moore's Law.
TSMC says its 5-nm process offers a 15 percent speed gain or a 30 percent improvement in power efficiency. Samsung is promising a 10 percent performance improvement or a 20 percent efficiency improvement
Also, "both Samsung and TSMC are offering what they're calling a 6-nm process" as a kind of stepping stone for customers with earlier availability (H2 2019) vs 5nm production.
Unfortunately, but perhaps not unexpectedly, the playing field has narrowed significantly with the progression to 5nm foundry production
GlobalFoundries gave up at 14 nm and Intel, which is years late with its rollout of an equivalent to competitors' 7 nm, is thought to be pulling back on its foundry services, according to analysts.
Samsung and TSMC remain because they can afford the investment and expect a reasonable return. Samsung was the largest chipmaker by revenue in 2018, but its foundry business ranks fourth, with TSMC in the lead. TSMC's capital expenditure was $10 billion in 2018. Samsung expects to nearly match that on a per-year basis until 2030.
Can the industry function with only two companies capable of the most advanced manufacturing processes? "It's not a question of can it work?" says [G. Dan Hutcheson, at VLSI Research]. "It has to work."
According to Len Jelinek, a semiconductor-manufacturing analyst at IHS Markit. "As long as we have at least two viable solutions, then the industry will be comfortable"
There may only be two left, but neither company is sitting still:
Feature In 1965, Gordon Moore published a short informal paper, Cramming more components onto integrated circuits.
In it, he noted [PDF] that in three years, the optimal cost per component on a chip had dropped by a factor of 10, while the optimal number had increased by the same factor, from 10 to 100. Based on not much more but these few data points and his knowledge of silicon chip development – he was head of R&D at Fairchild Semiconductors, the company that was to seed Silicon Valley – he said that for the next decade, component counts by area could double every year. By 1975, as far as he would look, up to 65,000 components such as transistors could fit on a single chip costing no more than the 100-component chips at the time of publishing.
He was right. Furthermore, as transistors shrank they used less power and worked faster, leading to stupendous sustained cost/performance improvements. In 1975, eight years after leaving Fairchild to co-found Intel, Moore revised his "law", actually just an observation, to a doubling every two years. But the other predictions in his original paper of revolutions in computing, communication and general electronics had taken hold. The chip industry had the perfect metric to aim for a rolling, virtuous milestone like no other.
Since then, according to Professor Erica Fuchs of Carnegie Mellon University, "half of economic growth in the US and worldwide has also been attributed to this trend and the innovations it enabled throughout the economy." Virtually all of industry, science, medicine, and every aspect of daily life now depends on computers that are ever faster, cheaper, and more widely spread.
Intel Targeting Zettascale (1000 Exaflops) by 2027?
[Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger] showed a chart tracking the semiconductor giant progressing along a trend line to 1 trillion transistors per device by 2030. "Today we are predicting that we will maintain or even go faster than Moore's law for the next decade,"[*] Gelsinger said.
[...] In a Q&A session after his keynote, Gelsinger revealed that achieving zettascale computing using Intel technology "in 2027 is a huge internal initiative."
"But to me, the other thing that's really exciting in the space is our Zetta Initiative, where we have said we are going to be the first to zettascale by a wide margin," Gelsinger told The Next Platform. "And we are laying out as part of the Zetta Initiative what we have to do in the processor, in the fabric, in the interconnect, and in the memory architecture — what we have to do for the accelerators, and the software architecture to do it. So, zettascale in 2027 is a huge internal initiative that is going to bring many of our technologies together. 1,000X in five years? That's pretty phenomenal."
[...] If you built a zettaflops Aurora machine today, assuming all of the information that we have is correct, it would take 411.5X as many nodes to do the job. So, that would be somewhere around 3.7 million nodes with 7.4 million CPUs and 22.2 million GPUs burning a mind-sizzling 24.7 gigawatts. Yes, gigawatts. Clearly, we are going to need some serious Moore's Law effects in transistors and packaging.
In its relentless pursuit of Moore's Law, Intel is unveiling key packaging, transistor and quantum physics breakthroughs fundamental to advancing and accelerating computing well into the next decade. At IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) 2021, Intel outlined its path toward more than 10x interconnect density improvement in packaging with hybrid bonding, 30% to 50% area improvement in transistor scaling, major breakthroughs in new power and memory technologies, and new concepts in physics that may one day revolutionize computing.
"At Intel, the research and innovation necessary for advancing Moore's Law never stops. Our Components Research Group is sharing key research breakthroughs at IEDM 2021 in bringing revolutionary process and packaging technologies to meet the insatiable demand for powerful computing that our industry and society depend on. This is the result of our best scientists' and engineers' tireless work. They continue to be at the forefront of innovations for continuing Moore's Law." –Robert Chau, Intel Senior Fellow and general manager of Components Research
Moore's Law has been tracking innovations in computing that meet the demands of every technology generation from mainframes to mobile phones. This evolution is continuing today as we move into a new era of computing with unlimited data and artificial intelligence.
Continuous innovation is the cornerstone of Moore's Law. Intel's Components Research Group is committed to innovating across three key areas: essential scaling technologies for delivering more transistors; new silicon capabilities for power and memory gains; and exploration of new concepts in physics to revolutionize the way the world does computing. Many of the innovations that broke through previous barriers of Moore's Law and are in today's products started with the work of Component Research – including strained silicon, Hi-K metal gates, FinFET transistors, RibbonFET, and packaging innovations including EMIB and Foveros Direct.