Energy Worries Render Moore’s Law Redundant

September 16th, 2011 by · Leave a Comment

This article was authored by Michael Carroll, and was originally posted on

I came across an interesting article in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s newsletter outlining how Moore’s Law is now largely redundant because attention is switching from processing power to power consumption.

The new energy usage law has already been dubbed Koomey’s Law, in recognition of Stanford University’s consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering Jonathan Koomey who headed research into the phenomenon with backing from Intel and Microsoft.

Koomey and his team looked at the peak power usage of computing devices from the birth of the US military’s Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer in 1956 to the present day. They note that power consumption tends to halve every 18 months, hence the comparison with Gordon Moore’s observation in the 1960s that the processing power of chips doubles over the same timeframe.

The relevance of Koomey’s Law is evident in the proliferation of mobile devices – in particular the extension of battery life while adding increasingly power-hungry applications. However, the observation is also relevant to data centers, and bears testament to the technology industry’s attempts to clean up its act from an environmental point of view.

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