I am curious as to what direction everyone thinks Processors, Motherboards, RAM, Storage, etc. will go in the future. IMO, despite everyone's opinion, there is still plenty of room left on the performance table. Here are my thoughts:
Not on the table:
Not on the table:
- Monolithic CPUs - I think the age of monolithic CPUs is dead. As process nodes shrink, it becomes harder to control heat/leakage. Intel is finding this out with 10nm. Breaking things up on the package is the way to go, even if it's just the memory controller and IO like AMD is doing.
- HBM on the CPU package - While it is a novel idea, I think HBM will remain solely in the data center and on enterprise/high end (think: super computer) configs. The price/benefits just aren't there.
- Spinning Drives - I think that hard drives are gradually going to go away for casual users, and will be limited to datacenters in high capacity fashion.
- Chiplet design - I think a separate IO die for both AMD and Intel is the way to go for future CPU designs. Whether using monolithic cores in a single chiplet with an IO die or multiple chiplets with groups of cores, this is clearly going to be the superior strategy moving forward. The benefits outweigh the minor increase in costs.
- "Spacers" between CPU cores and other components within a die - As CPU dies shrink, frequencies go down due to leakage. I expect we will reach a point where a 5nm CPU core will be embedded in a much larger package to help limit leakage and control heat. Note that AMD did this with Zen+ to an extent.
- A MASSIVE increase in core counts - #1 and #2 gradually lead to more cores. As long as Intel/AMD can control leakage, individual CPUs can shrink to their limit, while maintaining a high clock speed.
- Cache Improvements - Expect further cache refinements on both AMD and Intel chips, including both increased cache sizes, and eventually an L4 cache. This is the single 'easiest' way to boost performance, but it's also the most expensive.
- Increased APU performance - I suspect Intel is going to drive this one home eventually. We will eventually see APU performance at 4k. It sounds a bit out there, but Intel has been pushing hard to increase performance and catch up to AMD every generation.
- DDR Continued improvements, QDR possible. DDR4-5133 was recently demonststrated. That's 2.56 GHz. There will be a ceiling to DDR improvements without any type of active cooling, but I predict further speed improvements, a quad pumped data rate, tighter timings, and shorter traces to drastically help with memory access latencies. Eventually RAM will reach parity akin to L4 or even L3 cache I suspect.
- Larger SSDs displacing hard drives - I already see this happening. In my own system I have a 3 TB of SSD storage (1 TB NVME and 2 TB SATA) and plan to replace that with 6 TB NVME later this year. The prices are still a bit high, but they are falling, and have already fallen below forecasted levels, the average user only needs around 500 GB, and 500 GB drivers are super cheap. Nowadays you can get a 500 GB SSD for pennies. The only thing slowing this down in the OEM sector are possible kickbacks from hard drive vendors. However, these vendors are slowly moving to solid state, so eventually hard drives will be replaced. In addition, SSD speeds are rapidly reaching the point of DDR4 speeds. It wouldn't surprise me if one day, the two merge and become one, though I'm not a fan of this.
- This one is a bit more out there - CPU instruction sets to supplement GPUs - As APUs become more ubiquitous, I expect CPUs to take over more of the workload. We may even see a gradual merge of performance parts on the AMD and Intel side. While this sounds a bit outlandish, Nvidia holds a sizeable marketshare and Intel and AMD would love to steal that marketshare away by using x86 extensions to make discrete graphics obsolete.
- This one is way out there - ARM gradual compatibility. ARM technology is rapidly catching up to x86. I predict that eventually we'll see a socketed ATX ARM design and a number of vendors competing for business. Windows for ARM will become a thing, and build systems for game engines like Unity will auto target those systems. Intel/AMD will respond by adding ARM instruction sets to their own CPU designs.