Trouble ahead, captain! Before ten years is out, our pattern of reducing the size of semiconductors (for example, the move to 45nm from 65nm with Penryn) every two years or so is going to hit a brick wall. In a few more shrinks, we’ll be approaching 10nm, at which point quantum mechanics begin to take over and reality gets all wobbly.
So what’s next? IBM’s chief technologist says in an interview with Forbes that the history of innovation will continue as new fixes, metals, and techniques will come into play to continue to improve chips. Chip stacking? Check. Light-based computing? Check. The stuff I was talking about in our podcast (Nehalem) is child’s play compared to the things they’re planning. This guy went way over my head, but it’s interesting reading.