Scientists Find Fundamental Maximum Limit for Processor Speeds

Chips

The days of exponentially-shrinking chips are numbered.jpockele

Silicon wafers. Quantum computing. Light-based processors. Any way you slice it, scientists say that processor speeds will absolutely max out at a certain point, regardless of how hardware or software are implemented.

Lev Levitin and Tommaso Toffoli, two researchers at Boston University, devised an equation which sets a fundamental limit for quantum computing speeds. According to their studies, a perfect quantum computer can generate 10 quadrillion more operations per second than fastest current processors. They estimate that the maximum speed will be reached in 75 years.

Others, including MIT professor Scott Aaronson, think that even with the emergernce of quantum computing, Moore's Law will die even sooner, in 20 years. Gordon Moore (along with others) predicted that the axiom would die anywhere between 4 and 15 years from now with regard to silicon chips.

But Levitin says that a variety of factors, such as technological barriers, will slow the process, leading them to believe that processors still have 75 years of evolution left.

So... what happens when those speeds max out?