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Digital Evolution

02/20/2008 2:00 PM Wong Auditorium
Dr. Craig R. Barrett, Chairman, Intel Corporation

Description: The world is counting on the fulfillment of (Intel co"founder) Gordon Moore's Law for at least another half century. In Craig Barrett's view, solutions to the crucial challenges of our time depend on improving on already nano"sized microprocessors every few years.

He points to the astonishing improvements in efficiency and miniaturization in Intel's semiconductors, which around 1972 came loaded with 2,000 transistors that could be seen with the naked eye. Today's integrated circuits, 11 generations down the road, bear 1"2 billion transistors that can be seen only with a scanning electron microscope. Intel has had to make other improvements too, says Barrett, as they moved into the nanoscale, attempting to improve functionality and performance without power dissipation. Dual and quad core microprocessors now permit parallel computing within a single PC. Barrett recounts how the first teraflop computer he worked on at Sandia Labs required 10 thousand Pentium processors and took up 2,000 square feet. "The challenge is in the next six to eight years, going to exascale, getting up to a million teraflops," through multiple core processors, he says, and then there will be a "huge challenge in terms of software paradigms."

These changes must come, says Barrett, if the world is to confront its "grand challenges," such as making solar energy affordable, solving issues of carbon sequestration, and figuring out the hydrogen cycle. Those extra teraflops and exaflops will also prove essential to the next generations of visual computing, where scientists (and gamers) want the feel of HD reality on their computer screens. Barrett says silicon photonics will help pave the way for such improvements.

Barrett wants current and emerging technologies put to use as well in education, which he sees as fundamental to helping developing economies. He describes efforts Intel is making to get computers into classrooms around the world, as well as providing training in their use, and helping with broadband connectivity. He also wants computer power brought to bear on the U.S. healthcare scene, which he describes as more of a looming financial crisis than a bankrupt social security system. He's looking for a political candidate who sees the value of revamping healthcare to take advantage of electronic medical record"keeping, and personalized remote monitoring and diagnostics, "to shift the issue of healthcare from the hospital to individuals and the home."

About the Speaker(s): Craig Barrett joined Intel Corporation in 1974 as a technology development manager. He was named a vice president of the corporation in 1984, promoted to senior vice president in 1987, and executive vice president in 1990. He was elected to Intel Corporation's Board of Directors in 1992 and was named the company's chief operating officer in 1993. He became Intel's fourth president in May 1997, chief executive officer in 1998 and chairman of the Board on May 18, 2005.

Barrett serves as chairman of the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development, and is an appointee to the President's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and to the American Health Information Community.

Barrett received his B.S. M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Materials Science from Stanford University. After graduation, he joined the faculty of Stanford University in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and remained through 1974, rising to the rank of Associate Professor. Barrett is the author of over 40 technical papers dealing with the influence of microstructure on the properties of materials, and a textbook on materials science, Principles of Engineering Materials.

Host(s): Vice President Resource Development, Industrial Liaison Program

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

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