Intel has estimated that 1,000 times more processing power will be needed for the metaverse than is currently available.
The digitally interconnected ecosystem of platforms across multiple devices that the metaverse seeks has yet to materialize. Many tech firms, including the recently rebranded Facebook (now called Meta), see this as the way of the future for computer use.
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Metaverse and Moore’s Law
Nearly 30 years ago, Neal Stephenson used the term “metaverse” in a science fiction novel. For Intel VP Raja Koduri, “metaverse” represents “an aspiration to enable rich, real-time, globally-interconnected virtual- and augmented-reality environments that will enable billions of people to work, play, collaborate, and socialize in entirely new ways.”
In his novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson depicts the metaverse as a poor, desperate nation ruled by corporate franchises, which is necessary because the real world has become intolerable to live in, though this aspect was left out of Mr. Koduri’s summary.
But the executive stressed that “several orders of magnitude more powerful computing capability, accessible at much lower latencies across a multitude of device form factors” are necessary for this vision to become a reality in the industry.
It will take even more than the current state of computing to enable “truly persistent and immersive computing,” which billions of people can access in real time.
This is because it takes a lot of computing power to create convincing simulations of users’ clothing and appearance, collect sensory data from their movements, and transmit this information in real-time. Horizon Worlds, Meta’s crown jewel VR experience, is limited to 20 users simultaneously.
Due to Moore’s Law, which states that computing power will double every two years, a practical metaverse is highly improbable shortly.
Intel, Samsung, and IBM are among the tech giants working on a solution; the latter has proposed a new type of semiconductor chip that could completely revamp transistor design.
The firms assert they can provide “two times improvement in performance or an 85% reduction in energy use” and extend the life of smartphone batteries to seven days. Supporting a digital universe and lowering the carbon footprint of energy-intensive technologies like cryptocurrency mining and data encryption are both possible benefits.
What is Moore’s Law?
Gordon Moore predicted in 1965 that the number of microchip transistors would double every two years. Moore’s Law states that the rate of improvement in computational speed, size, and efficiency will increase dramatically over time. Moore’s Law, widely recognized as one of the most influential theories of the 21st century, has far-reaching predictions for the development of technology but also potential limitations.
According to Moore’s Law, the number of transistors on a microchip doubles about every two years. According to the law, computer speeds and capabilities will double every two years while decreasing prices. Moore’s Law also states that this expansion will be exponential. Gordon Moore, a co-founder and former CEO of Intel, is widely credited with formulating the law.
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What Effects Does Moore’s Law Have on Computers?
Moore’s Law has influenced the development of computer processing power. This means that integrated circuits’ transistors have improved in speed. Transistors are electric conductors with carbon and silicon molecules to speed up the flow of electricity through the circuit. The speed of a computer is directly proportional to the rate at which electricity can flow through the integrated circuit.
How Does Moore’s Law Work?
Transistors are a fundamental component of all digital computers. Typically, they consist of stacked layers of doped silicon or another semiconducting material, each with its unique effect on electrons.
Various transistors exist to conduct electricity from one location on a chip to another. They can function like switches or logic gates to perform Boolean operations by amplifying, feeding back, or blocking an electronic signal.
Integrated circuits, also known as microchips, are tiny square-shaped silicon wafers that contain many transistors. On the surface of the wafer, thin lines made of aluminum, copper, or sometimes gold connect the transistors. Manufacturers of microchips have found that increasing the density of interconnected transistors within a chip has led to faster electrical conductivity and thus faster computer performance.
Nearly 60 Years Old and Still Strong
Moore’s Law has had far-reaching effects and continues to benefit society more than 60 years after it was first proposed.
As the efficiency of transistors in integrated circuits increases, so do modern computers’ miniaturization and processing speeds. Carbon and silicon molecules in microchips and transistors are perfectly aligned, allowing electricity to flow more quickly along the circuit. A computer’s performance improves in proportion to the speed at which its microchip can process electrical signals. As the price of labor and semiconductors decreases, more powerful computers have become increasingly affordable each year.
Moore’s Law has implications for almost every part of a technological society. Miniature processors are essential to operating many modern technologies, including smartphones, tablets, spreadsheets, accurate weather forecasts, and global positioning systems (GPS).
All Sectors Benefit
Furthermore, the increased power of computer chips has led to improvements in transportation, healthcare, education, and energy production, to name a few.
Moore’s Law Has Evolved Over Time
Moore’s Law was refined over time to account for the actual increase in transistor density. The doubling time was initially set at two years but has since been reduced to roughly 18 months. The semiconductor industry and electronics built on their exponential growth thanks to Moore’s Law, which has lasted for decades.
The inherent complexity of semiconductor process technology is a problem for Moore’s Law, and it’s only getting worse. The small feature size of modern advanced process technologies necessitates multiple exposures to reproduce these features on silicon wafers, as transistors are now three-dimensional. Moore’s Law has been “slowed down” due to the increased difficulty this has introduced to the design process.
Moore’s Law Is Dead — Wrong, or Right?
The question “Is Moore’s Law dead?” has been raised in response to this slowdown.
The short answer is no; Moore’s Law is still alive. Moore’s Law is still delivering exponential improvements, albeit at a slower pace, even if chip densities aren’t doubling every two years (which would mean that Moore’s Law isn’t happening anymore by its strictest definition). This fad is still very much in effect.
Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, has said that he doesn’t think Moore’s Law will ever be outdated. In 2021, he declared that the next decade would be spent not just maintaining Moore’s Law but exceeding it. Many seasoned professionals on the pitch would agree. In an interview with TechRepublic, IDC VP of programs Mario Morales defended Moore’s Law, saying it still applies in theory.
When asked about the effects of Moore’s law, he said, “If you look at what Moore’s law has enabled, we’re seeing an explosion of more computing across the entire landscape. “Computing was once focused on mainframes; later, clients; and now, edge and endpoints; however, as they become smarter, they perform AI inferencing, which necessitates computing. Consequently, Moore’s Law has pushed the limits of computing sustainably.
Moore’s Law is still driving improvements in processing technology and the amount of progress that follows these improvements, despite the general agreement that it is slowing down and may soon be supplemented.
It couldn’t do this if it were already dead.
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Real-World Applications of Moore’s Law
The practical application of Moore’s law is that every two years, computing power in electronics and personal computers doubles.
A chip with 2,000 transistors would set you back around $1000 in 1970. In 1972, that same chip would set you back around $500, but by 1974, you could pick one up for around $250. The same number of transistors cost $0.97 in 1990 and less than $0.002 today.
In 1990, the average price of a PC was around $3,000. The same quantity of processing power was $1,500 in 1992 and only $750 in 1994. Currently, the price has dropped to about $5.
This exponential growth in circuit complexity was made possible by the consistently decreasing sizes of transistors. In the 1940s, transistors were typically measured in millimeters. Storage capacities in the megabyte range were made possible by dynamic random-access memory chips in the 1980s when the size of transistors had shrunk to less than a micrometer, or a millionth of a meter.
In the twenty-first century, transistors were about 0.1 micrometers in size, and memory chips could store several gigabytes of information. Nanometers, or meters divided into a billion parts, became the standard unit of measurement for transistors in the 2010s. From the 1940s, this was a reduction of over 100,000 times.
Advances in nanotechnology utilizing three-dimensional patterns will allow manufacturers to place even smaller transistors on chips as Moore’s Law continues into the 2020s. More than 50 billion transistors are packed into modern microchips, necessitating a painstakingly precise placement process that involves multiple exposures and enormous complexity.
Scaling innovations account for the vast majority of this increase in microchip complexity. Scale complexity is causing the progress curve of Moore’s Law to flatten out now that nanotechnology has been reached. Each new generation of chips shows less dramatic performance, power reduction, and density improvements due to the evolution of computer architecture hitting molecular limits.
Today’s Metaverse Hardware
Some pieces of the metaverse’s future can be seen coming together right now.
Virtual reality is widely available today, with most users gaining entry through a special headset. In addition, you’ll require movement and positional controllers.
Many people have a stale impression of virtual reality. However, Mark Zuckerberg once stated that the greatest difficulty of our era is cramming a supercomputer into the casing of ordinary glass.
This suggests that integrating the digital world into our everyday lives is not the end goal as a means to an end. In case you were wondering, this is what Microsoft calls Mixed Reality or what Google calls Ubiquitous Computing.
Amazing innovations like Apple’s Object Detection are available to the public. Recently added Lidar sensors in the iPhone can perform a 500 million-times scan of their surroundings. This enables rapid millimeter-accurate 3D digitization of environments and objects.
Or Epic, which in 2020 demonstrated how an avatar accurately replicated a worker’s expressions in real-time, albeit on a different face.
The haptic glove, developed by Meta Labs, is yet another novel approach. This cutting-edge soft robotics technology aims to make the metaverse feel more real to users.