## Intel Predicts Ubiquitous, Almost-Zero-Energy Computing By 2020 144

MrSeb writes

*"Intel often uses the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) as a platform to discuss its long-term vision for computing as well as more practical business initiatives. This year, the company has discussed the shrinking energy cost of computation as well as a point when it believes the energy required for 'meaningful computing' will approach zero and become ubiquitous by the year 2020. The idea that we could push the energy cost of computing down to nearly immeasurable levels is exciting. It's the type of innovation that's needed to drive products like Google Glass or VR headsets like the Oculus Rift. Unfortunately, Intel's slide neatly sidesteps the greatest problems facing such innovations — the cost of computing already accounts for less than half the total energy expenditure of a smartphone or other handheld device. Yes, meaningful compute might approach zero energy — but touchscreens, displays, radios, speakers, cameras, audio processors, and other parts of the equation are all a long way away from being as advanced as Intel's semiconductor processes."*
## Re:Thermodynamics (Score:5, Informative)

Aren't there some fundamental physical limits on how low your energy usage can be for a given amount of information based on thermodynamics? Is it just the case that they're way, way less than what we're using now?

For any sort of data storage the energy barrier between the two states needs to be large enough that the system doesn't thermodynamically fluctuate between them very often. In practice, this means that the barrier needs to be several times larger than kb*T where kb is the boltzman constant. For computation there's not any hard and fast rule about the energy required, but there's lots of practical ones...

## When you say "zero" (Score:5, Informative)

You don't really mean zero. There is a fundamental minimum [wikipedia.org] amount of energy it takes to do a calculation. When Intel says "almost zero energy computing" how far over this limit are they actually talking about? 101% of the Landauer limit? 200%? 1000%?