In its April issue, Wired Magazine argues that we need a second Moore's law, this time about overall efficiencies of our computers and other electronic devices. The subtitle of the article summarizes it: "If we don't do something about increasing battery life, we're toast." Michael S. Malone, the author, says that the first Moore's law is endangered, not because the semiconductor industry cannot build new generation of chips, but because we will not be able to provide them with enough power.
Here is the introduction.
The biggest impediment to our technological future isn't extending Moore's law. Thanks to recent breakthroughs at the semiconductor manufacturing level, by 2010 top-tier processors should be stuffed with a billion transistors and running at more than 20 gigahertz. No, the biggest challenge to progress is much more ordinary: It's battery life. What good is a super-functional cell phone if it runs out of juice after 20 minutes?
Malone contends that the problem arises from the fact that we are using more and more wireless devices, which obviously are not connected to a plug.
Even after a decade of impressive innovation in battery and "green" chip technologies, we're beginning to lose the race to power our wireless electronics. Moore's first law is a two-edged sword -- more transistors for the same price is great for computers, but it's hell on batteries: As the processor power doubles, the power consumption also rises. An inability to run the next generation of chips at their full capability will play havoc with the semiconductor business, consumer electronics, telecommunications, the PC industry, and ultimately the world's economy. Moore's law could come to an ironic end -- not because we can't build the next generation of chips, but because we can't run them.
He argues that Moore's law was based on three axes of development, speed, miniaturization, and price, and that we need a new law adding a fourth one, overall system efficiency. And he adds that efficiency is a system-wide problem which will require that all the actors of the semiconductor industry work together to solve.
Finally, he formulates the new Moore's law.
What should be the second law's equivalent to the first's famous "double every 18 to 24 months" formulation? We need something sufficiently Herculean without being impossible.
Let's try this. Moore's second law: Overall net efficiency of any electronic system will double every 24 months.
Can this be done? Time will tell.
Source: Michael S. Malone, Wired Magazine, Issue 12.04, April 2004