a reply to: iosolomon
Yep, that does sound like arrogance, in this case I think it is warranted. I find it increadibly arrogant of someone who seemingly knows little about
how technology and science works to be claiming a conspiracy and a coverup that is seemingly unrelated to the top in question.
Take things out of context as much as you like. Transistors on chip is purely related to the desired application. A cell phone (most) are based on the
ARM architecture, we have nice quad cores these days, at GHz clock frequencies... pretty awesome right? how does it compare in power to a PC? Well to
be brutally honest you cannot really compare but if you want to, then you will find that a bog standard ARM chip running at about 1GHz, gives you the
same performance as a 100-200 MHz x86 (ish, its around that mark)... So why is this? Well the ARM architecture can be built to use a very low amount
of power, the other point is that the ARM arch is put out there as a customizable standard which means a cell phone company can develop their own
additions and chips, many companies make ARM chips. Basically only 2-3 companies i think make x86, the technology is more closed.
So what do you need to do on your phone?
Make calls, Send texts, Send data, maybe play a game or two, without using lots of power.
The more Transistors you use on the dye, the more power you use. BUT if you can make the transistors smaller, you can make them use less power. Great!
but there are technological limits of lithography and typically THAT technology is what needs to be improved.
So A company wants to design a phone, great. They look at how they can make a phone do what a phone generally does and when they look at the CPU
requirements they look at the operating system it will use and what applications typically use and require CPU wise and they develop around the
minimum power usage while giving you ok performance.
Fact is that CPU requirements for day to day users have not really increased that much in a real way, I use a 4 year old Samsung Galaxy. I have latest
android on it. Does it run smoothly? Yes Does my phone do what I want it to do day to day? Yes.
A phone is NOT something where you really find bleeding edge technology. It is marketed as a bleeding edge package, ie a phone company can run a
profit with that device, but the tech itself is basically the most efficient version of the minimum required components.
Computers are different, they have a wider range of uses, CPU technology reached the clock frequency limit at around 3.5GHz for a stable off the shelf
CPU. You can push higher but the extra performance is not linear. This is limited by transistors requiring a minimum drift time, this is dependant
upon the voltage you can apply and the type of doping in the semi-conductor. Unless moved away from Silicon technology this limit is with us and it is
physically very hard to overcome. Miniaturizing goes some of the way, but doesn't fix everything. The faster you cycle a transistor the hotter it
gets, so you reach a point that it doesn't really matter how you negate that, you hit a point that is the limit. Like I said, for Silicon we got
So What do we do?
Well you are no doubt aware that we are moving to multi-core chips, in fact it has been that way for a long time. The tricky part about multi-core
processors is that they give you extra performance ONLY if the program you run is designed in a parallel manner. That is, parts that can be executed
on more than one core without creating a race condition or negatively impacting elsewhere, will gain any performance at all. Muli-cores give you a
great tool to reduce overhead and allow the CPU to apply power for a task without having to stop and wait for other threads.
So this means we can double up cores on a chip at will! So why don't we do it?
Same reason why the PS3's power pc architecture Cell chip had 1 core turned off out of 6... YIELD.
Construction is not something that is 100% repeatable, and growing / etching and doping silicon is a physical chemical process that we have gotten
great at doing, but it is not perfect.
If you produce a CPU with 8 cores, your yield is lowered drastically due to compounded failures in the manufacturing process. So? So as a high street
consumer, they will rather produce a 2 or 4 core chip because the yield is better. If you compare Intel and AMD chips, this is why the phenom when
introduced was cheaper. Performance/price point was matched to intel for market reasons, but the cost of production was aided by the design of the
chip allowing AMD to manufacture quad cores, and deactivate any that were bad. Intel i don't believe designed theirs in this way. So You have a
triple core AMD? Its actually a quad core with one bad core.
Anyway, what about these 50 core CPUs that are out there! can the public have those? Well, firstly they are not commercial products, they are
enterprise products. To produce them, intel/amd/whoever have to typically do a single custom run and keep waisting silicon until they get 50 cores
that work. What Moore's law applies to is 'affordable' CPUs, and not enterprise gear.
50 cores! must be wonderful right! I wonder how well Battlefield 4, Vice City 5 or COD would run on that! wow... well truth is it would run just as
well as your CPU in your desktop. about 46 of the cores will be sat doing nothing while 4 do the task.
Oh but it will allow you to make everything photorealistic... well wrong again, because a GPU is really the driving force there NOT the cpu and that
is a similar kettle of fish.
So do governments have access to ultra fast CPUs with lots of cores... yes they do, but they have the money to pay for them. If you was a millionaire
and wanted your very own computing cluster with 1000's of available cores, you can have one and no one will really care. Pay the money and you can
have it, being able to use it is another thing.
So what is all this CPU power doing? Well if you are Mr Joe public, you want entertainment typically. those not doing entertainment things might be
creating content, movies music etc... You don't need 50 cores for that, an expensive computer semi-enterprise kit will do that for you perfectly
fine. software and hardware is in the public domain to do that.
So what is the real use of all this CPU power?
Scientists will use them to perform complex computations such as n-body simulations, protein unfolding, finite element analysis, physical simulations,
data analysis, analytical mathematics, predictive n-body simulations such as weather mapping to name a few.
These are some areas where CPU brawn and parallel computing comes into its own. In terms of the technology being available to the public, well it is
available, but just how much more power do you really need to play a few games and surf face book... not sure if you knew but overhead of games is
only bad because of people being very lazy in the way that they program. You only need a faster computer every few years because of the art of
programming dying out.
So those simulations performed must be super secret right? Well not really, in particle physics anyway the main packages are free. Want do do some
data analysis using the same tools the people working on the LHC use? Want to do physics simulations... go ahead