University at Buffalo
Hard Science

Vortex Laser Will Both Revolutionize Computing and Save Moore’s Law

This is one law that needn't worry about repeal.

Cecille De JesusAugust 1st 2016

Moore’s Law is Falling Behind

In 1965, electronic engineer Gordon Moore predicted a fast-paced, promising future for computing: “From careful observation of an emerging trend, Moore extrapolated that computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, at an exponential pace,” Intel says.

Moore noted that transistors shrink to a size and the computing power we can cram onto a chip doubles every year. The observation, which later became known as Moore’s law, shaped Intel and the industry and continued consistently until the 70’s.

From 1975, however, this trend went down double the computing power every two years, and has been slowing down since. The industry now fears the end of Moore’s law is near, and technology is having a harder time keeping up with this development standard for pace.

“The continual cramming of more silicon transistors onto chips, known as Moore’s Law, has been the feedstock of exuberant innovation in computing. Now it looks to be slowing to a halt,” chief of the MIT Technology Review’s San Francisco bureau Tom Simonite wrote.

Credit: University of Buffalo

Lasers Over Silicon

Now, it looks like the five-year ticker Moore’s law is believed to have left might just be extended as the industry looks to other materials as replacement solutions: this time, they are using lasers.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo have designed a data encoding device using laser beams shaped like a corkscrew through a light-manipulation technique called orbital angular momentum. The new technique works like a vortex that can quickly move data, funneling it through. They were able to shrink the vortex laser so it could interface with existing computer components, and the twists of the corkscrew design allows ten times more storage than linear lasers. Their study can be found in the journal, Science.

While some technology may have to be abandoned in order to give chance to new ones, the diverse (and still growing) number of emerging computing technologies may just keep Moore’s law going longer.

On the other hand, perhaps a slow-down in technological pace isn’t something to worry about, but rather something to embrace—some argue that Moore’s law is one of the most successful marketing gimmicks in history.

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