The End of the Road for General Purpose Processors & the Future of Computing

John L. Hennessy, UC Berkeley

John L. Hennessy, U.C. Berkeley

After 40 years of remarkable progress in VLSI microprocessors, a variety of factors are combining to lead to a much slower rate of performance growth in the future. These limitations arise from three different areas: IC technology, architectural limitations, and changing applications and usage. The end of Dennard scaling and the slowdown in Moore's Law will require more efficient architectural approaches than we have relied on. Although progress on general-purpose processors may hit an asymptote, domain specific architectures may be one attractive path for important classes of problems. Such an approach will pose new challenges for software and chip designers, as well as increase the need for more advanced design tools.