Moore’s Law gets a new lease of life

Paul Raven @ 22-02-2009

digital camera CCD chipGood news for Kurzweilian Singularitarians and flop-junkies – Moore’s Law has been looking increasingly likely to derail as we approach the lowest practical limit for semiconductor miniaturization, but newly announced research means there’s life in the old dog yet:

Two US groups have announced transistors almost 1000 times smaller than those in use today, and a [nano-scale magnet-based] version of flash memory that could store all the books in the US Library of Congress in a square 4 inches (10 cm) across.

[…]

Using 3-nanometre magnets, an array could store 10 terabits (roughly 270 standard DVDs) per square inch, says Russell, who is now working to perfect magnets small enough to cram 100 terabits into a square inch.

“Currently, industry is working at half a terabit [per square inch],” he says. “They wanted to be at 10 terabits in a few years’ time – we have leapfrogged that target.”

If this were Engadget, we could squee about how we’ll have laptops the size of wristwatches by the end of the decade, but that would be to miss an important point. The ever-falling cost and size of memory and processing power will certainly mean more gadgets, but those gadgets will bring social changes along with them – as Charlie Stross pointed out a while ago, if you can read and write data at the atomic scale then physical storage capacity becomes a complete non-issue, allowing you to record everything – literally everything. [image by Fox O’Rian]

When you can record everything, how do you go about managing and using what you’ve recorded?