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The 8080 chip at 40: What's next for the mighty microprocessor?

Lamont Wood | Jan. 9, 2015
It came out in 1974 and was the basis of the MITS Altair 8800, for which two guys named Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote BASIC, and millions of people began to realize that they, too, could have their very own, personal, computer.

"I am a bit concerned about the whole cloud thing," Hoff adds. "Consider that the delay due to a few inches of wire between a CPU chip and its memory now corresponds to several [CPU] instructions. Local storage has never been cheaper. And yet we are planning to move our data miles and miles away, where its security is questionable, and the time to reach it is several orders of magnitude longer than with local storage. And consider the bandwidth requirements."

Nick Tredennick, a former design engineer at Motorola who worked on the MC68000 microprocessor and a co-founder of chip-maker NexGen, calls for hardware that is configurable according to the needs of the software. "We need to make the hardware accessible to programmers, not just logic designers. I predicted that years ago, but it did not happen." He foresees that micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) combined with the Internet of Things should lead to buildings and bridges that can report when they are stressed and otherwise need maintenance.

As for the cumulative future result of the rising tide of computer power, "I don't think it will be world peace, or a human lifespan of 300 years," says Frankston. "Whatever it is, it will be the new normal, and people will complain about 'kids these days.'"


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