Saturday, March 5, 2011

Computers Moving Towards the Light

I remember sitting in my undergrad dorm room stunned at my 533 MHz processing computer’s quickness.  I watched my C and RPG programs run, and the programs would just scream along.  The following year I watched in wonder as Intel and AMD fought the processor war.  I got excited when the first 1.0 GHz processor released.  Then the 2.0 GHz barrier was broken, followed by the 3.0 GHz obstacle.  I heard rumors questioning how much longer this could continue.  There must be a limit to the processors’ material to move faster.

As I started reading more and more about limitations of computers, I learned of Moore’s Law, the growth of speed and limitations.  Yet CPU speed is not the only bottleneck of computers, we have overcome many traffic jams through solid state drives, larger buses, and more RAM.  Right now I can purchase servers with as many core processors as I want, terabytes of RAM and petabytes of storage.  Further, you can purchase graphic and nic cards with their own processors and memory cache to speed performance.  Yet, we still demand more speed and more storage.  Our creation of content rate goes beyond exponential growth.  As Kevin Kelly mentioned, the Internet is alive and growing.  Think of the larger cloud corporations like Google, they need more robust machines to supply and meet our demands. 

I think the next generation of computing devices, optical computers, will step up to meet the demand.  Quantum computers will provide a possible alternative, but they are not quite ready for production in the near future (my opinion).  In Halal’s book, Technology’s Promise, he states that optical computers will operate 1,000 times faster than electric processing computers (p52, 2008). predicts that optical computers will have a moderate acceptance in society by 2018 with a 63% confidence interval from the experts of their organization.
Several forces drive this acceptance and deployment of optical computers in the future.  First, developmental motivation compels research universities and corporations to create the first economical and feasible optical computer.  The creation is already in progression as MIT researchers created a photonic chip and IBM discovered a method to emit light through nanotubes.  Secondly, economical inspiration forces research institutions to discover more fiscally sound equipment to continue entrepreneur growth on a dime.  Thirdly, the cultural aspect of desiring faster computing with more storage drives firms to find resources/equipment to supply the demand of the public.  Combining these forces and the quest to innovate, the current society provides the perfect storm to not only create, but also widely accept the next generation of computers, the optical computer.

Halal, W. E. (2008). Technology’s Promise.p.86-88. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

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