By 2040 we will use more energy than the world can provide.
That is according to research from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), which also predicted that by 2021 Moore's Law – the observation that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years – may be obsolete.
The study, which surveyed technological challenges and opportunities for the semiconductor industry through to 2030, attributed this to the fact that even if it is possible to fit more transistors into the circuits, it probably won't be financially practical because of manufacturing costs.
If these predictions come true, it could mean the death of IT in its current guise.
This means resellers could have to change the way they position IT solutions to stay ahead of the game.
Andy Trish (pictured), managing director at NCI Technologies, said that applying energy-saving solutions now could minimise the future energy impact and save organisations money.
"I'm not an eco-warrior but I do believe we should be able to resource more energy from natural sources than from things like nuclear power," he explained. "We recently saved one customer £80,000 by putting in a thin-client solution rather than a PC solution. I'm not saying that solution in particular is right for everyone, but it is a good, efficient solution in the right system."
Trish added that although energy-saving techniques employed by some companies such as Microsoft – which has been experimenting with underwater datacentres – are a good idea, it should not be used as a catch-all solution.
"They are saving money by creating underwater datacentres, but you also have the impact it will have on that area. Doing good in one area doesn't necessarily mean bad things won't then happen to other areas."
Some areas of IT are already focusing heavily on energy-saving solutions, such as all-flash array solutions in the storage sector, which are designed to use less energy by having no spinning parts, unlike traditional disk storage.
Jonathan Lassman, director at Epaton, said he believes the industry doesn't have to "radically change" in order to remain afloat, because technology is naturally progressing in an energy-efficient way.
"There is a massive cost-saving opportunity if you are energy efficient, and the storage market is already heading down that route with the all-flash array," he said. "By the year 2040, all technology will be tiny, and have no moving parts, so it will go hand in hand with efficiency. There is nothing that needs to radically change for it to happen. It is happening already.
"[Energy efficiency] is a natural progression. It is happening everywhere already."
US VAR Data Memory Systems disagrees that it is a natural progression, however, and has urged the IT industry to look at the hardware it produces to make basic improvements to become more energy efficient.
Justin Briere, senior account manager at Data Memory Systems, explained: "We knew that the world was relying more heavily on computers, but this revelation is somewhat surprising to us. It is imperative that we look at the positive changes we can make now in order to maintain the world's energy levels."
The research predicts that some energy-efficient solutions that will enter general circulation by 2020, particularly in datacentres, will be silicon photonics, high-radix networks and ARM cores.
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