The computer of 02010


Found while reading Charles Stross’ web diary is this wonderful link from 02000 Forbes Magazine on where computers would be in ten years… now just a few months away.  Some gems:

Within 10 years, in fact, silicon will fall to the computer scientist’s triple curse: “It’s bulky, it’s slow, and it runs too hot.” At this point, computers will need a new architecture, one that depends less on electrons and more on… well…what else? Optics. 

Optical computers still seem about ten years away even now.

The PC will be protected from theft, thanks to an advanced biometric scanner that can recognize your fingerprint.

They got that one bang on.

  You’ll communicate with the PC primarily with your voice, putting it truly at your beck and call. 

Not so much.  While there are decent voice control systems for limited applications, I would not call voice based computing a mature technology.

In 2010, a “desktop” will be a desk top…in other words, by plugging our computer into an office desk, its top becomes a gigantic computer screen–an interactive photonic display. 

It is certainly true that this type of computer has come out, not quite a standard yet though.

What do we do with our 2010 computer when we arrive home after a long day’s work? Plug it into the wall with a magnetic clamp and watch as our home comes to life. In essence, the computer becomes the operating system for our house, and our house, in turn, knows our habits and responds to our needs

Hmmmm.  There are more computer controlled home appliances now, but my bet is this will happen more with smart phones than PCs (like Apples Remote app for the iPhone).

The disk will be holographic and will somewhat resemble a CD-ROM or DVD. That is, it will be a spinning, transparent plastic platter with a writing laser on one side and reading laser on the other, and it will hold an astounding terabyte (1 trillion bytes) of data

Bingo! sorta….  Yes you can buy a 1 terabyte hard disk at Best Buy, but it sure isn’t holographic storage.

Our 2010 CPU will operate on the same principle as today’s PCs. But instead of electronic microprocessors providing the brains and brawn, our future CPU will have optoelectronic integrated circuits (chips that use silicon to switch but optics to communicate).  With communication between components no longer bottlenecked by electronic transmission, we can probably push the clock rate to 100 gigahertz, 100 times faster than what’s available now. 

Well I am writing this on a two core 3 Ghz  computer, and there are 8 core versions commercially available, but we certainly have not reached 100 Ghz.

Our main RAM will be purely optical, in fact, holographic. Holographic memory is three-dimensional by nature, so we can stack up any number of memory planes into a rectangular solid to create 256 gigabytes of optical main memory, 1,000 times as much as a really powerful desktop computer today. 

Again no optical RAM, and machines seem to be selling with around 2-4Gb of the old standard silicon in them.

Nice work Forbes for putting some actual testable predictions out there!

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