You can’t just sell one component in a system either. You have to have knowledge of the entire ecosystem that you’ll be functioning in. In an industry where more and more start-ups are creating the visions of tomorrow, full solutions are going to be more valuable than just a power IC. Take a look at the Apple Watch for example. Apple took the System-in-Package approach just to fit as much processing and sensing power as they could into one compact elegant block of technology. The Apple Watch probably has more processing power than cell phones did just 10 years ago, yet it is less than half the size. And it has more features than most did.
But is Moore’s Law really collapsing per se, or is it simply coming to its natural end? Gordon Moore himself cited the physical limitations and that eventually this trend will stall. Current “accepted” predictions put the end of the trend less than 10 years away in 2025. Even International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS 2.0) met for the last time ever, opting to transition the industry’s focus to other means of increasing computing power. So when Moore’s Law finally ceases to exist, what will drive growth?
I happened to dive into the Internet Rabbit Hole chasing the answer and stumbled across Bell’s Law of Computer Classes. Rather than predict the complexity of new processors and transistor counts, Bell’s Law keeps things a little more open to interpretation. It describes the creation, evolution, and destruction of different “classes” of computer systems. This includes everything from mainframes to personal computers to wireless sensor networks. It describes the evolution of technology, how one innovation leads to the next. Bell estimates that a new industry for a new computer class emerges roughly every decade.
This isn’t to say that these industries last only one decade, but that at the very least a new one emerges and blossoms. It’s a law that I think more accurately describes the trend of technology growth in a way that doesn’t limit growth to one specific aspect. As engineers we are tasked with finding new ways to solve challenging problems with the tools we already have in our arsenal. This is how the IoT emerged, and how the concept of the smartphone became mainstream.
What new application will bloom in 2020? Who knows! But we can try to dream it!