Moore Than Technology

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Technology is advancing but how does that affect you? � Levi Buzolic reports

In this day and age technology is advancing at an incredible rate, so fast in fact that we are building beyond our needs, so is technology going to fast for us or is it just keeping up with the times? The ever-changing world of computers is something we all pride ourselves on. Since the 10’s computers have become faster, smaller and more apart of our every day lives. With each new advance, it is met with a greater problem or task, thus the need to further improve.

In recent months we have seen some advances in technology that will seem never to be challenged. This is evident in graphics card company ATI; they have recently, with the cooperation and support of Mitsubishi Electrics, created a graphics card and a monitor that can display many more colors that are definable to the human eye. This allows for more advanced color shading and smoothing that would have other wise been done by Dithering (used to trick the eye into seeing more colors that what is used, by closely placed pixels) The companies say that there is possible use in extending the vision capabilities of the human eye. “They will be like augmentations similar to sci-fi movies!” says Mitsubishi Electrics spokesperson Pat Sturmon.

A well known ‘law’ of computers is Moore’s Law, it states that every eighteen months processor speeds will double. This law has been extremely accurate for many years now but this may soon come to an end. Over the last year processor manufacturers have begun to realize the end of silicon based chips; “For so many years it’s been about adding more transistors, increasing the speed” “We have come to realize that there is a limit to what we can fit on the chips. Due to the nature of silicon” said AMD CEO Michael Barr. In just a few years processors will have be made in completely new way and out of a new material, luckily developers spotted this early and have been working on the project for nine months already. Intel CEO Craig Barrett said “This hasn’t happened since the beginnings of the first CPU’s”. This will mean that the speed increases of processors will pause for a moment as the new architecture is brought in and then the predicted ‘jump’ where speeds should soar beyond Moore’s Law and then return to normal. Both Intel and AMD, CPU’s biggest players are working on a new chipset which will overcome this barrier.

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Another expanding IT industry is the Graphics Cards. These are cards you insert into your computer to increase the speed, quality and performance of D rendering and games alike. The have come a long way over the years. “What we find scary is that GPU (graphics processing unit) speeds have exceeded the beloved Moore’s Law of the CPU market” says nVidia’s deputy spokesperson Geoff Naylor at a recent press conference in America. GPU’s are currently doubling in speed in less than ten months. “Although market is young, I believe that we can hold this speed advance for a few years to come” boasted Mr. Naylor. Because of the graphics market being relatively new, competition is extremely fierce. As companies try to establish a solid foot-hold in the multi-billion dollar mountain. The big players ATI, nVidia and dfx have all held the leading position, but none as long as nVidia, Mr. Naylor said “Only just recently have we been knocked from number one for speed, but our sales still exceed all competitors”, “We plan to hit back with our new card, the GeForce FX”.

Games too are advancing at an incredible pace. They are becoming more realistic, graphical and user interactive. It was just six months ago where buying the latest computer assured you of playing every game released for a year. But recently this has changed, if you brought a new computer during October 00 � January 00, you would find yourself in a situation where games released over the next few months would be too graphically intense for your system to handle. This is because games companies have hit a new level of graphics. These include special hardware engines that allow you to display a normal flat textured wall with amazing detail in every bump, crevasse and texture. This is a new effect called bump mapping which uses advanced texture rendering engines to turn flat objects into realistically textured bricks, landscapes or stone. It’s only now where software has come level with hardware technology and it is expected to stay the same way for quite some time.

The world of computers is always changing and keeping up with it is harder than ever. Ralph Barrett of JayCar Electronics and Lantaztic in Joondalup says “Being in the IT industry for well over twenty years, I’ve seen a lot of changes, not only in the computers themselves but how and why we use them.” He also said “the only way I can understand the new is to learn the [old] and work upwards”. Mr. Barrett is required to learn all of the new computer and electronic technologies in order to repair them. “I’ve been in training for as long as I can remember and now I’m still training myself.”

Change is mostly good and the improvements usually beneficial, but are we going too far ahead of ourselves? Is there a limit to the technology? One thing is for certain and that is the end is far from near and we still have a long way to go. Besides, it’s nothing ‘Moore’ than technology…

- Levi B



Bibliography

Fordham, A. (00) Processors; The Big Guns! PC PowerPlay. Issue #84 March 00

Fordham, A. (00) Graphics Cards; The New Age. PC PowerPlay. Issue #75 may 00

Intel� Processor Road Map (00) Intel� Corporation [on-line] Location http//www.intel.com/products/roadmap/index.htm?iid=ipp_desk_proc+roadmap&

The State of Technology (00) ATI Press Headlines [on-line] Location http//mirror.ati.com/companyinfo/press/00/78545415.html

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