Such is the speed of computer uptake that Intel predicts the world will be crammed full of 1.2 sextillion transistors by 2015. That’s 1,200 quintillion, 1.2×1021 or, wait for it… 1,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 transistors.
This prediction comes from tracking the exponential growth in transistor count we’ve seen in the past 30 years, growing from an unspecified small number (we’re guessing around a few billion) in 1980 to 5 quintillion in 2005 then to 80 quintillion in 2010. This would make the rise seen in those previous 30 years seem almost like a flat line in comparison.
Powering much of the demand for all this silicon will be the 900billion gigabytes of data that is uploaded to the web in some way shape or form every year, a large proportion of which one assumes is made up of the 48hrs of video uploaded to youtube every minute – both figures Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, was banding about.
In order to keep up with this pace Intel will need to keep up with its own Moore’s law that predicts transistor density will double every two years. Luckily Intel declared it was on track to do just this thanks to its upcoming 22nm tri-gate technology which is going into production as we speak, ready to churn out so called Ivy Bridge (the successor to the 32nm Sandy Bridge) chips in the new year. Following this is the 14nm process which Intel says it is already tooling its fabrication plants up for with a mind to producing chips in 2013.
(centre)To show just how little power its chips can use, Intel showed a processor running Windows while powered off a single solar cell(/centre)
All this shrinkage will be used to help ensure the next generation of ultrabooks can truly be as thin and light as a MacBook Air yet deliver 10hrs of battery life, without any loss of performance. We can’t wait!