Internet will run out of power by 2020 warns analyst

Internet will run out of power by 2020 warns analyst

Feature articles |
CHIPS 2020 Vol 2: New Vistas in Nanoelectronics looks at the state-of-the-art in nanoelectronics but its most significant finding is at the global scale; that unless changes are made the proliferation of nanoelectronics is set to produce blackout failures of the Internet by 2020 due to a lack of electrical power.
By eeNews Europe

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In short, the global population’s eagerness to get itself and everything it owns online is leading to a data explosion that is consuming 40 percent more power every year and the Internet’s power demand could soon rival the world’s available power resources.


Mobile Internet traffic in exabytes per month. Source: Cisco, VNI Mobile.

This is leading to fears of major Internet blackouts by as soon as 2020. Such blackouts would likely be manifested around global events such as natural or man-made catastrophes or worldwide sports coverage, says the research book’s editor Bernd Hoefflinger.

Next: Time to turn the tables


Two strategies that could delay or avoid the collapse of the Internet are mentioned in the book. One is to introduce charges or taxes levied on excessive use of the Internet to curtail use of what will effectively become a limited resource. The second is to effect a series of 10x order of magnitude changes in the way in which nanoelectronics is designed, manufactured and used.

These nanoelectronic changes mainly focus on digital logic and neural network architectures optimized for power consumption. Mobile Internet data doubles every 18 months, rather like a non-benign version of Moore’s Law, and video data already represents 70 percent of Internet traffic, according to Hoefflinger, so addressing video data is a priority.

Expected Internet performance and its demand for electrical power. Source: CHIPS 2020 Vol. 2

Next: Insatiable demand


While some discussion has taken place elsewhere of a coming intelligence singularity – the point at which machines achieve an intelligence superior to that of human beings – Hoefflinger has pointed out the nearer and potentially more serious energy-resource singularity.


Mobile Internet demand for electrical power. Source: CHIPS 2020 Vol. 2

To avoid the blackout of the Internet by 2020 and enable sustained growth of nanoelectronics beyond 2030, the world needs to embrace many radical changes, some of which are discussed in the book.

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