Computing now consumes 8% of the world's electricity and unless a new sustainable technology can be found "the information revolution will stall due to power hunger."
Computing technology is "running out of steam"
Dr Daisy Wang, Research Fellow at the School of Physics, UNSW, explains the demand for computing power grows every day and the energy used in computation doubles each decade. The growing demand for computing capacity and energy must be met with gains in computing efficiency, otherwise the information revolution will slow down from power hunger.
"For the past 40 years, our ever-increasing need for more computing was largely satisfied by incremental improvements in conventional, silicon-based computing technology – ever-smaller, ever-faster, ever-more efficient chips. We refer to this constant shrinking of silicon components as ‘Moore’s law’.
"However, as we hit the limits of basic physics and economy, Moore’s law is winding down.
"Our current computing technology is running out of steam, and is no longer getting more efficient every year. The efficiency gains with current, silicon-based technology is expected to stop as soon as 2020."
CIOs need to prepare
CIOs need to prepare not only for bill shock but also for the demise of ever smaller data chips after 40 years of continual improvement, according to Professor Michael Fuhrer, the director of the Centre for Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET) at UNSW.
“When we exhaust further efficiencies in silicon technology and data-centre management, energy will become the limiting factor for any further computation growth.
“The semiconductor industry simply does not know what lies beyond Moore’s Law, only that it must be something entirely different.
“What we do know is that a revolutionary change is necessary, and that revolution can only come from a basic-science, back-to-the-laboratory effort."
$68 million allocated in research funding
The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET) has launched an ambitious new R&D initiative to develop a new sustainable lower power alternative to the computer chip.
Seven Australian universities and 13 science organisations will be collaborating on the project which has received more than $42.5 million in funding from the its contributing organisations and the ARC, as well as $25.5 million of in-kind commitments.