Gonzo essay on the limits of chip design


#1

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#2

That. Was. Awesome.


#3

best/funniest thing i've read all month.


#4

Oh of course it has to be AMD that burns a hole to the center of the Earth...


#5

Clipper chip? Really? The 6502 was much more photogenic


#6

But I'll bet John's so smart it seems as if he has many branes.
Edit: LOL


#7

i liked this story a whole lot , but i really really miss the orthogonality of the motorolla 68000 class cpus , really i do !!


#8

This single mother earns £340 a day at home overclocking her CPU using this weird old tip...


#9

OK - puts on ex-chip designer hat .... you guys are assuming this is fiction, I lived it, while it's tongue in cheek it's pretty close to reality ... suddenly small technology advances mean that you can do something you couldn't do before - you put all of a 32-bit cpu on a die, next generation (2 years) you put the caches on too, after that it's all down hill you're competing to add tiny amounts of architectural speed, you lean on the process guys and they pull clock speedups out of their arses for a while but as stuff gets smaller RC delays and clock skew start to kill you.

I built 2-d graphics accelerators for macs in the early 90s - for 3 generations of designs we made things 10 times faster each time (humans seem to have a bit of a logarithmic response - they seemed 'twice as fast') then we hit the wall - drams were getting bigger, not faster - while for us screens/framebuffers weren't really getting bigger that fast) - we went through the while process in 2 years.

In reality we're starting to run up against the atomic level, you can count the width of wires in atoms, push too many electrons too fast through them and the atoms start to move (that limits how fast you can charge up the capacitance of gates and nets and build reliable hardware), gates are atoms thick, they start to get leaky - IMHO the whole Moore's law thing has played out, at least for traditional silicon processes - we need something different, that's stable at the the atomic level (carbon nanotubes?) to grab those last few generations worth of performance - it's going to take a while


#10

Thank you, Cory, and thank you James Mickens! I'm going to practice this for my next Storyreading party.

...John now resembled the scraggly, one-eyed wizard in a fantasy novel who constantly warns the protagonist about the variety of things that can lead to monocular bescragglement...
Just...wow.


#11

Today, if a person uses a desktop or laptop, she is justifiably angry if she discovers that her machine is doing a non-trivial amount of work. If her hard disk is active for more than a second per hour, or if her CPU utilization goes above 4%, she either has a computer virus, or she made the disastrous decision to run a Java program.

Why is my laptop hot?


#12

I loved this, right up until he misspelled Edgar Allan Poe. Why do they always misspell Allan?


#13

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