Macro-economic consequences of Moore's law?

By: Ireland (boh.delete@this.outlook.ie), April 19, 2017 2:12 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
RichardC (tich.delete@this.pobox.com) on April 19, 2017 12:08 pm wrote:
>
> But I think it's a mistake to focus only on Intel, who have missed out badly on the phone/tablet
> boom, and instead have found themselves chasing improvements in server TCO (by putting more and
> more cores per cpu, with less and less power per core) and laptop battery life.
>


But why are consumers, leaving laptops behind and going in search of solutions, like phones or tablets at all? I think it's because at some point, the whole basis for the 'design' and engineering of small computers, i.e. 'laptop systems', just didn't work any longer. They tried to make laptops, into small desktops - but it doesn't translate. Something radical in the design and relationship of certain parts in the system - are different in 'laptops', versus in desktops. That's the problem that wasn't addressed - and that's mainly what's driven folk away totally from laptops - and towards phones and tablets.

Three major consumers of power in servers and laptops - CPU's, memory and drives.

--- CPU's ---.

You design a good server CPU, somewhere a long the line - you tend to receive good laptop CPU's also.

I don't think, the 'CPU' component has been a major problem in laptops for a long time (not having a 'CPU' that was powerful enough for 'applications'). Normally the capability of CPU's and their power consumption was good, in laptops. Surprisingly good. However, it was other parts of the system where it didn't work too well.

--- Memory ---.

You create good memory technology for servers, somewhere a long the line - you tend to receive good laptop memory components too.

The thing that did seem to operate on a positive trend, in laptops and servers, was the various generations of memory technology. They'd develop a new memory standard, in order to pack more memory into servers, in a more power efficient way. For example, moving from DDR2 technology to DDR3, or DDR3 to DDR4, offered 'head room' to designers of laptop systems and servers - from a power and performance point of view. That was welcome.

--- Hard drives ---.

Oh boy.

There's a lot of things I don't understand about laptops, and how they're built. But, here's an effort at explaining some of the problem. I've heard hugely encouraging things about laptops and PCIe NVMe drives. They got introduced at the top end - and below that then, it's a whole different ball game it appears. I think, this is where Moore's Law, seems to be just lousy in the recent past, of being able to fix or improve anything for laptops.

There's a 'glut' of stuff shoved through sales channels every year, that seems to be inside a whole other 'basement' in terms of performance. And it doesn't really matter how good memory or how good laptop CPU's can get. For a long time, there were an awful lot of laptops shipped - where the power distribution only worked really, if you had those slow, bad mechanical hard drives sucking their power supply of five volts from the motherboard. That was the thing that distinguished a 'laptop' system, from even the lowest end 'desktop', for me. You just didn't have an awful lot of room to play around with, using better hard drives. And I don't know, I think that might be owing to 'battery' technology - the relationship of the battery component, relative to the hard drive component - in the small laptop system. Like, solid state 'sata' didn't deliver any power advantage over 'mechanical' drives, did it?

Are we moving beyond 5,400 rpm drives in laptops now? Are laptops designed around more high performance drives? Or are we still stuck in that regards, because batteries in laptops haven't changed much have they? And forget about working off of mains supply with a laptop - like laptops tend to be designed, to work off whatever awful battery that they've got - even though, there would be a lot more headroom to play with, working from a mains supply. I don't know what way that they laid out laptop motherboards from a power distribution point of view - but for a long, long time - they only managed to do so, in a way that the five volt rail power distribution was pretty much constrained, by how the 'battery' power supply in laptops had to function. I.e. The battery power output to the five volt rail was such that - you needed these 5,400 rpm drive type models - that sucked around a 'HALF AN AMP' or thereabouts. You put anything else in there, like a 7,200 rpm model or even a Sata solid state, and it messed things up from a point of view of the laptop battery.

Would it be feasible to do something like a 12 volt hard drive, of the solid state kind - even if it were a PCIe kind say? It might mean that circuits in laptops, could deliver 12 volts to hard drives, and not need to operate at more than half an amp?
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