Forget about the “Tablet Wars.” That’s yesterday’s news.
The same thing goes for the long-predicted “Death of the PC.”
You see, the mainstream media has unleashed a torrent of technology predictions for 2012. They’re all a mile wide and an inch deep. No one seems to get the big picture.
The single most important computing trend that will unfold this year is getting almost no buzz. And yet …
This is the year when the technology sector will enter a whole new dimension. It’s called 3D computing.
Make No Mistake About it: This is Huge
Now, I’m not talking about wearing funny glasses while you watch TV.
This is the year Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) plans to hit the market with 3D chips.
This doesn’t just put the storied Silicon Valley leader ahead of its competition; it also symbolizes the breakthroughs that will drive the “Era of Radical Change.”
Fasten your seat belts folks. As I discussed yesterday, the world is speeding up.
As you are no doubt aware, all manner of computers keep getting smaller – and faster. Like clockwork, chips pack twice as much punch every two years.
Take a look at a cell phone from the early 1990s. You couldn’t make a decent call on one, and it was nearly as big as a brick. Today, a smart phone fits in your shirt pocket. It surfs the Web, plays video, and can even pilot an unmanned drone half a world away.
Smaller, Faster, More Powerful than Ever
It’s all because of Moore’s Law. An Intel co-founder, Gordon Moore predicted that every two years computing power would double. Moore realized high-tech engineers would keep finding new ways to make transistors smaller.
But let’s not resort to geek speak. Just remember that the size of all electronics is governed by how many of these little devices we can put on a single chip. Just like loading up your wallet, when it comes to chips more is better – much better.
Except that every few years the “experts” warn us that we’re about to hit a brick wall and our electronics just can’t get any smaller.
That’s because in the past we could only put all of this key information on a flat surface. At some point you just run out of real estate – unless you can go vertical.
3D Chips Yield Exponential Results
That’s where 3D chips come in.
If you can stack a bunch of these tiny transistors on top of each other you can get more output from the same chip.
It’s like owning a parking lot and suddenly waking up to see it’s now a three-story garage.
Intel says it expects to make chips that run as much as 37 percent faster. That’s a huge increase in speed.
Using Moore’s Law, we can predict those same chips will be 148 percent faster in just four years. That’s the power of exponential increases in technology.
Let’s face it. If your portfolio showed those kinds of gains you would hardly brush them off.
And yet … naysayers abound. As reported in The New York Times, industry skeptics believe Intel is sinking billions into unproven technology.
Moreover, the skeptics say the new chips will be too power-hungry to work well in smart phones and tablet computers.
But they are missing the point. If Intel doesn’t solve the power problem, someone else will.
I predict 3D computing will become standard throughout the computer industry by the end of this decade.
I also think 3D-processor technology will find its way into mobile devices and thousands of other products as well.
After all, not long from now we will see billions of digital machines communicating with each other wirelessly. We’ll even be wearing computers in the form of smart fabrics, contact lenses and eyeglasses that double as Internet projectors.
In fact, just to keep up with the dizzying pace of innovation in the Era of Radical Change, computers will have to get faster.
You know what that means. Chips will have to go vertical. No question about it.
IBM’s Secret Sauce
As it turns out, Intel isn’t the only mega-cap tech leader pushing the 3D boundary.
The two tech giants are currently working on a breakthrough way of stacking standard processor chips on top of each other. It’s called “3D packaging,” and it’s sort of like building a 10-story high-rise so small you can’t see it with the naked eye.
IBM’s secret sauce? It’s a unique silicon glue that holds the stack of chips together. Big Blue hopes to release the first versions of these chip stacks sometime next year.
So far we’ve only focused on chips that process information.
Turns out several companies are improving the capacity of memory chips by stacking them on top of each other.
This is crucial in a world filled with broadband data. Memory chips provide temporary data storage and can improve a computer’s performance.
Still, if our recent experience is any guide, the mainstream media will just gloss over these breakthroughs as well. (They will gloss over this one too − another of my finds that will rock the markets in the near future.) It will be their loss when they do, since I’m certain to find plenty of good investment opportunities that will take advantage of 3D computing.
So stay tuned. The Era of Radical Change is here.
Michael Robinson is a defense and technology specialist for Money Morning. This article is republished here with permission.
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