At what point are our processors going to become small enough that their cost and size will no longer be a concern? According to Intel, by 2020. Prior to the company’s annual Developer Forum kick-off, a presentation was shown that gives the example of “Compute Moves to Zero” – that is, the point where computing is totally ubiquitous with our daily lives.
As seen in the slide above, Intel details the path we’re on. There are the biggest computing spaces, datacenters, then PCs and laptops, and as chips have gotten smaller, mobile devices. Then, there’s nothingness, or “zero”, where computation is apparently just a given. It could be in our watches, our eyewear – heck, even our clothing (I’d recommend not getting such clothing at Walmart, it’ll just BSOD).
In 2013, Intel hopes to bring 14nm process technology to the market, and following its shrinking down every 2 years, we could see 10nm in 2015, 7nm in 2017 and 5nm in 2019 – barring any unforeseen technological hurdles that really stifles things. At 5nm, current processors would go from being the size of a dime to about the size of an LED on your PC chassis (roughly). The point is, chips could be produced so small, that their costs would be far less than they are today, potentially resulting in chips simply being everywhere. Not to mention spread into the poorest countries.
Currently though, this is all science fiction, because for Intel and other companies to pull off these sorts of successes, there are major obstacles to overcome – at the very least, power efficiency. How exactly would you cool a processor die at ~10mm^2 with a billion transistors? It’s truly a thought to boggle the mind.