There are few people in the gaming industry that you simply must pay attention to when they speak. One of them is John Carmack, founder of id Software and a friend of the site, creator of Doom. Another is Epic Games' Tim Sweeney, another pioneer in the field of computer graphics that brought us the magic of Unreal before bringing the rest of the gaming industry the Unreal Engine.
At DICE 2012, a trade show for game developers to demo their wares and learn from each other, Sweeney gave a talk on the future of computing hardware and its future. (You can see the source of my information and slides here at Gamespot.) Many pundits, media and even developers have brought up the idea that the next console generation that we know is coming will be the last - we will have reached the point in our computing capacity that gamers and designers will be comfortable with the quality and realism provided. Forever.
Think about that a moment; has anything ever appeared so obviously crazy? Yet, in a world where gaming has seemed to regress into the handheld spaces of iPhone and iPad, many would have you believe that it is indeed the case. Companies like NVIDIA and AMD that spend billions of dollars developing new high-powered graphics technologies would simply NOT do so anymore and instead focus only on low power. Actually...that is kind of happening with NVIDIA Tegra and AMD's move to APUs, but both claim that the development of leading graphics technology is what allows them to feed the low end - the sub-$100 graphics cards, SoC for phones and tablets and more.
Sweeney started the discussion by teaching everyone a little about human anatomy.
The human eye has been studied quite extensively and the amount of information we know about it would likely surprise. With 120 million monochrome receptors and 5M color, the eye and brain are able to do what even our most advanced cameras are unable to.
Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2012 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: photolithography, moores law, MAPPER, etching, electron lithography
Josh has covered the lithography process in depth in several of his processor reviews, watching the shrink from triple digit process to double digit process as the manufacturers refine existing processes and invent new ways of etching smaller transitors and circuits. We've also mentioned Moore's Law several times, which was a written observation by Gordon E. Moore that has proven to be accurate far beyond his initial 10 year estimate for the continuation of the trend that saw that "the number of components in integrated circuits had doubled every year from the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 until 1965". It is a measure of density, not processing power as many intarweb denizens interpret it.
With UV light currently being the solution that most companies currently implement and expect to use for the near future, the single digit process seems out of reach as the bandwidth of UV light can only be compressed so small without very expensive work arounds being implemented. That is why the news from MAPPER Lithography of Delft, The Netherlands is so exciting. They've found a way to utilize directed electron beams to etch circuitry and are testing out 14nm and 10nm processes and doing it to the standards expected by industry. This may be the process used to take us below 9nm and extend the doubling of tranisitor density for a few years to come. Check out more about the process at The Register and check out the video below.
"An international consortium of chip boffins has demonstrated a maskless wafer-baking technology that they say "meets the industry requirement" for next-generation 14- and 10-nanometer process nodes.
Current chip-manufacturing lithography uses masks to guide light onto chip wafers in order to etch a chip's features. However, as process sizes dip down to 20nm and below, doubling up on masks begins to become necessary – an expensive proposition."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ultrabooks less desirable in Europe, say Taiwan makers @ DigiTimes
- HP gives sysadmins a little mobility @ The Register
- Bulldozer Wprime and SuperPI records broken by XSR writer @ XSReviews