Re: COMP: Moore's Law
Thu, 10 Jun 1999 05:26:02 -0700 (PDT)

Eugene Leitl [] wrote:
>Then there is high time for innovation. I see no complexity issues
>arising in reconfigurable architectures apart from the fab process
>physics itself. Let's shift the complexity load to the software,
>where it belongs.

Even with a factor of ten slowdown compared to hardware?

>Wintel has done a desastrous job. It has perpetuated and cemented an
>insanely braindead way of doing things (not even inventing it: that
>blame goes to Big Blue), and yet people praise it for all the
>innovation they introduced.

No, I was pointing out that Intel have been able to keep putting out new, faster CPUs at a tremendous rate by reusing as much of their old design as possible, rather than trying to come up with brand-new architectures; when they try that -- with Merced, for example -- they fail. Whether the chips themselves are any good is a completely different matter.

>It is just nobody is willing to take the
>risks, since new technologies are expensive.

That's precisely my point; new technologies tend to take longer to build and cost more... and that's getting worse.

>Oh, but there is. These gate delays add up after a while. One needs to
>streamline/radically simplify the architecture to go to higher clock
>rates. Structure shrink alone can't do it forever, you know.

Yes, but there's still plenty of room in the 80x86 architecture, and they could bolt on a 64-bit kludge just like the prior 32-bit kludge. The main aim of Merced and the Camino chip seems to be locking people into a proprietary Intel architecture so they can eliminate competition and boost profits, not any essential technical improvements.

>I think Merced architecture is stale already well before it has become

Merced itself certainly is; the architecture may well be a good idea, if they can ever make it work.

>There is no need to go dedicated. If there are hundreds or thousands
>identical CPUs in each desktop there is sufficient horsepower to do
>anything in software.

Why pay for hundreds of expensive CPUs if you can do the same job with one CPU and nine dedicated support chips?

>God, we can do embedded RAM now.

But it's very hard to do anything useful with embedded RAM because any reasonable amount bloats the die size so much. My graphics card has 32MB of RAM; you're not going to fit that into a single chip with a graphics controller that already has close to ten million transistors and get any kind of affordable yield. Plus, of course, once you've built your chip with 32MB of RAM you can't then expand it without replacing the entire chip.

>There is a lot of silicon
>real estate out there on these 300 mm wafers. And quantitive yield can
>do wonders to prices.

You should really talk to the people who've tried WSI before making claims as to how wonderful it's going to be. The only company I know of who ever did it are Anamartic, and they had a hell of a time making it work; do they even exist anymore?