Slamming Into Moore’s Law: What Could We Do With More Powerful Processors?

Slamming Into Moore’s Law: What Could We Do With More Powerful Processors?

I’m fairly sure you don’t need a faster computer.
You might want one, but that’s different.

Today, I’m still very happy with my MacBook Pro. But the upgrade lust process never ends. After a few years working on a super-fast mac, I start to wonder, what’s faster, leaner, better. For over three years now the answer to that question has been zilch.

Here are the specs from my “Late 2012” MacBook Pro.

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As we are nearing “Late 2015” the processor ascension that used to be a given reason for a technology upgrade every couple years has ended. Today on Apple’s website, the fastest quad-core i7 MacBook Pro you can get is 2.8 GHz. That’s not a significant bump by any stretch of the imagination. So what happened? And would an additional 4 cores help me get my work done?

I can imagine wanting a faster laptop. I was checking out Apple’s site today to see what progress has been made. Well, you can get thinner and smaller, but you can’t get much more powerful. Moore is laughing in his grave. But again, I ask, what would I be able to do better with twice the processing power?

Processing power is less important these days than display processing power. Last Christmas when I was building a gaming desktop with my son, I was surprised that the 1024 mb graphics card was more expensive that the AMD eight-core processor. If I had eight cores would it make my MS Word run any faster? No. Would my internet connection be faster or my wifi connectivity any better while I was on the road? No.

Processing power is important, but these days the processors have overrun the need by about 3 X. If I were doing animation, 3d renderings, or huge video or audio edits, maybe, but today the most common computational tasks can be handled with the lowest processors.

That still doesn’t explain why almost three years later the speed increase on the Intel i7 quad-core processor is at best a 0.2 GHz increase. Has the industry hit the processor wall, and does it really matter? Can I get my tasks done with a $500 HP laptop? Yep.

John McElhenney


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