Computable Minds -

Four predictions about the hardware of the future

Posted on: Jul, 13th 2010
In this post I'm going to do predictions about how will be the hardware of the future, but not guiding me neither by the movement of the stars nor the Tarot cards, instead I'm going to base my predictions in the market evolution and some trends.
Since the years 40, the computers are being build following the John von Neumann architecture, with one processor, a memory and a controller of input/output. This will change sometime? I think so.

These are my predictions:

1st.- Integration of the controller of I/O inside the processor:

The controller of input and output, placed at the mother board, serves to control the access to the devices with the processor, because the devices go at different speeds. In the future will have the I/O controller and other devices, incorporate in the processor. We can see this trend now with the Core i7 that include the memory controller inside the processor, the AMD Phenom II that put together the processor, the I/O controller and the memory controller, and the next AMD Fusion that will integrate also the GPU of the graphic card.

2nd.- More processors:

As I explain at this post, the actual processors double every 24 months the number of cores. It's logic to think that in the future the computers will seem to the actual supercomputer with miles of processors.

3rd.- More hardware specific:

By other side, will appear more hardware added to do more specific task and free charge of the main processor. Today we dispose of additional hardware in store devices and cards. We can find this additional hardware specially in graphic cards where we have hardware for 3D, physics engine for games, video processing and, probably, in a coming future will add a engine of artificial intelligence, that will be used for games and other tasks.

4th.- Integration of the memory at the processor:

The memory, although will delay more than the I/O controller, also will be integrated at the processor.

Actually, the computers have a hierarchy of memories that go from the most expensive and fast, to the most cheap and slow. Its objective is make that the processor can access more fast to the more utilized data, so when the processor didn't find something at the fast memory, will go to search it in the following memory of the hierarchy. This hierarchy, from the most fast to the most slow, roughly, it's something like that:

Graph of the memory hierarchy of a computer

The only of these memories that are not volatile, that is to say, that its content is not deleted when end providing electrical current, is the hard disk. But the technical development of the memories suggest that in the future will dispose of not volatile memories more faster than the registries of the processor, that will be integrated in it and with a store capacity of YottaBytes, making unnecesary both this hierarchy as the architecture of von Neumann.

With all this integration, at the end, the size of a computer will be the same of a matchbox.

And you, what do you think about how will be the computers evolution?

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