We are surrounded by computers. In our homes, offices, public places and increasingly in our pockets. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double approximately every two years. His prophecy proved to true and having been named the Moore’s law is an important constituent of the computing history. From ‘a device for the military’ to ‘devices for the public’, the journey of computing has been lies an exponential one. The better thing is that, the exponentiation would not be decelerating soon.
What lies beyond the silicon?
Moore’s law would soon meet its end because of limitations of physical speed and miniaturization of silicon microprocessors. What are the candidates for the computers of the future?
Quantum computers and optical computers are two alternatives. D-Wave is a company that claims to be the producer of world’s first and only quantum computer. It is at present targeted only at Fortune 500 companies and the academia. Optical computing or the use of photons for computation is still in its infancy. Other alternatives are biological, that is, the protein and the DNA. For protein computers, the 0 (false) and 1 (true) correspond to very low and significant amounts of a signal respectively. A team at Harvard managed to squeeze in 700 terabytes of data into a single gram of DNA. Much has been speculated about the functioning of DNA computers. This is orders of magnitude beyond our hard disks with much more longevity than would be ever required.
Here is a short video featuring Michio Kaku, who explains the future prospects of computing.
Some news on quantum computing
- MIT Researchers Build All-Optical Transistor; The Future of Quantum Computers (hngn.com)
- Scientists Confirm D-Wave’s Computer Chips Compute Using Quantum Mechanics (spectrum.ieee.org)