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VR and Beyond: Powering the Immersive Computing Era

Mark Papermaster, CTO of AMD | Sept. 16, 2016
Today, society not only accepts and uses mobile technology, but it has become part of the fabric of our daily lives. From VR and smart homes, to autonomous cars – there seems to be no limit to what is possible and where the technology can be embedded.

However if we are to realise the promise of an immersive computing era, there are key challenges the silicon industry must navigate. 

Ever since the rise of personal computing, product developers benefited from a robust Moore's Law effect that saw doubled compute capability every 18 to 24 months at the same power and cost envelope. These gains allowed PC capability to grow rapidly during this period, and simultaneous gains in efficiency enabled low-power devices, defining the growth for the mobile computing era we see today.

Yet the laws of physics can't be fooled. While Moore's law is still relevant, it is has slowed. Semiconductor node improvements are becoming further spread in time with more mask levels and higher cost. We have seen in recent years that it takes a combination of architectural design, and innovative technology to stay on the same advancement rate of functionality. 

As we seek to power new experiences and innovations in this immersive computing era, I believe we will be looking at what I call Moore's Law Plus. This is the notion that, if the silicon industry is to maintain an exponential rate of performance and cost improvement, firms must take creative engineering approaches. In my view, the world of Moore's Law Plus will require the combination of CPU for computation, GPU for both compute and visualisation, and other accelerators to power the immersive computing era. These computation engines will be integrated with novel packaging technologies enabling them to work efficiently together.

Immersive Computing Era

The opportunities, possibilities and business models that lie ahead reinforce the fact that we are at the start of an immersive computing era, where technological advancements will happen faster than ever before and on a larger scale. The world as we know it today will change dramatically.

Fundamental building blocks for this are advanced, high performance, low energy computing power and visualisation. These elements are here now and improving rapidly. It's still early days for immersive computing, with first generation products today analogous to the first smartphones. The initial products were cool and useful, but no one imagined they would become items many of us can't live without and completely transformed the mobile market, giving rise to entirely new applications and services. 


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