TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY, TOMORROW
While the temptation is to seek out radical new tech, a little lateral thinking can go a long way. Take cloud computing: Who needs faster phones when you can push the heavy lifting into the cloud? That’s happening with services like Google Maps, where elements like routing are calculated on Google’s servers. So, accelerating smartphone performance may be more dependent on improving network coverage and speeds than creating faster processors.
Dedicated circuits or chips are another example. Again, the idea is already in use. Imagine rendering a modern PC game purely on a CPU rather than a graphics chip, and you’ll get an idea of how much more efficient a chip designed to do one thing well can be. If that approach can be combined with efforts to improve power consumption, it’s possible to imagine PCs and even smartphones with numerous dedicated circuits or chips, each able to perform a single task far faster than any PC can today. If that’s not possible, combine dedicated chips with the idea of pushing computing into the cloud, and you get the same result: more performance.
Of course, dedicated chips can be expensive to produce, which is why so-called programmable chips may have a bigger role to play. The idea behind such chips, known as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) is to create a chip that can be reconfigured on the fly. Made up of a matrix of configurable logic blocks connected via programmable interconnects, FPGAs are a sort of compromise between a general-purpose CPU and a fixed-function dedicated circuit.