back to article Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

DEATH NOTICE Long beloved by both engineers and computer scientists because of ongoing performance benefits ceaselessly and seemingly effortlessly achieved. From the age of fifty, Moore’s Law began to age rapidly, passing into senescence and then, at the beginning of this month, into oblivion. Moore’s Law leaves a thriving …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The slowdown happened years ago: when Java and outsourcing to cheap code shops both became popular.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Nope.

      Nothing cheap about Java and Indian outsourcers, trust me.

      A couple worthy of each other.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Windows

      "Because Java is slow"

      "Ring Ring!"

      "Hello, Anonymous Retard here."

      "This is 2001. I want my marketing memes from Microsoft back!"

      Or you can use OCaml. It generates C directly.

      (Btw, probably one of the worst attempts at prediction in IT ever: "The Java Virtual Machine: a passing fad?" IEEE Software ( Volume: 15, Issue: 6, Nov/Dec 1998 ). Sadly paywalled.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Seriously, outside of Android, smart cards and the mentally insane, the JVM is kinda dead.

        1. HmmmYes Silver badge

          Android doesn't run JVM.

          Last time an AT Mcrashed, it appeared to be runnign OS2/

          1. Thoguht Silver badge

            I think you're misunderstanding something here - it's the smartcards themselves that run Java, not the ATM.

          2. PastyFace

            or Windows NT

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Server-side Java is hugely popular and an massively in-demand skill - what are you talking about? Silly boy.

        3. Name3

          > Seriously, outside of Android, smart cards and the mentally insane, the JVM is kinda dead.

          You forgot server. Lot's of enterprise and open source server software is written in Java. Think of all the Hadoop and Lucene tech. And Oracle, IBM, and SAP, have lots of Java code bases.

          But dotNet is in the same boat. And while Java has a open source community with millions of projects, there is a wasteland and a dead zoo (former CodePlex, a failed Github competitor by MS). And dotNet Framework 4.x is labeled as "legacy", and dotNetCore 1 is already unsupported, and only the unfinished dotNetCore2 with the missing APIs and lack of open source projects is "the future". Beside enterprise server hardly anyone cares about them anymore. If Java is dead, what is dotNet then?

          Can someone Archive Codeplex: https://www.codeplex.com ... they will turn it off any minute :(

          1. Craigie

            There is (currently) no plan to turn off the read-only archive at Codeplex. Source view doesn't seem to work in Chrome already mind you.

        4. sisk Silver badge

          Seriously, outside of Android, smart cards and the mentally insane, the JVM is kinda dead.

          The most popular branch of the most popular game in the world still uses it. So long as the Java edition remains the main focus of the Minecraft team I think the JVM is going nowhere.

          All the more reason for them to change it over to C++ IMO.

        5. collinsl

          And Puppet and Cognos and Jira and loads of other web tools and HP iLOs and Dell iDracs and IBM iDross (whatever) and most implementations of IPMI etc etc etc

      2. Citizen99
        Coat

        "... Or you can use OCaml. It generates C directly. ..."

        Doesn't that belong in this thread ? https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2018/01/24/saudi_camels_disqualified_from_beauty_context_for_using_botox/

    3. FIA

      The slowdown happened years ago: when Java and outsourcing to cheap code shops both became popular.

      The slowdown happened because the IT industry has grown far faster than the ability to train competent software engineers.

      Not being able to 'see' the Heath Robinson machines that comprise most software applications helps with this too.

      If you asked someone to build a bridge, and the result was constructed out of twine and empty kitchen roll holders, even if it was demonstrably able to cope with the weight you'd still be wary of using it. Software doesn't have a physical manifestation that you can inspect so it's much harder to tell.

      In 'traditional' engineering you wouldn't hire an enthusiastic DIYer, you'd hire a trained engineer, no matter how well the shelves were put up in their house. In IT we tend to hire the DIYers as there's not enough engineers to go around.

      I've more than one occasion seen programming jobs advertised with 'Programming experience would be nice but not essential'. I've also worked with the result of this policy too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "If you asked someone to build a bridge, and the result was constructed out of twine and empty kitchen roll holders, even if it was demonstrably able to cope with the weight you'd still be wary of using it."

        Unless, of course, you were in a hurry, which unfortunately is the standard state of most businesses these days: get there before the competition does. Doing it fast is more important than doing it right because missing a deadline is obvious; you can fast talk your way out of something wrong most of the time.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "The slowdown happened because the IT industry has grown far faster than the ability to train competent software engineers."

        To say nothing of the ability to find candidates capable of becoming software engineers. However there's the equivalent of Moores Law at work here. You just add more cheaper, part trained, not necessarily talented engineers.

        1. AlbertH

          Educational Issues....

          To say nothing of the ability to find candidates capable of becoming software engineers.

          This is very true. Since education in much of the world these days has been devalued to its current nadir, we're unlikely ever to see a truly competent, educated, able software engineering workforce. Schools today seem to believe that indoctrinating children with the latest PC "values" and deluded left-wing nonsense is an education. It isn't.

          I've had the recent misfortune to want to employ a couple of school-leavers in trainee positions that would give them further education (at a local college) and a reasonable rate of pay. I was only able to find one lad who was sufficiently able to fill one of the posts, and he'd been home-educated. The other 80 applicants were all equally ill-equipped for life outside the lower reaches of the civil service! None were sufficiently numerate, and most had the literacy abilities of an 8-year-old. Many had never read a book, and all were simply interested in getting paid for menial work, rather than receiving any kind of further education.

          Unless education is actually reinstated in UK schools, we're going to end up with the most ignorant, intellectually crippled populace in the western world. We already lag much of the world in basic engineering skills, and this will only worsen with the current crop of "teachers".

      3. veti Silver badge

        The slowdown happened because the IT industry has grown far faster than the ability to train competent software engineers.

        Or to put it another way: "Competent software engineers have repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises to create tools that would put the great majority of computing tasks within reach of any reasonably educated layperson."

      4. Dagg
        Flame

        It's called Agile

        'Programming experience would be nice but not essential'

        Even enough time and enough monkeys can't keep up with the changes so you just get what they could throw together as long as it looks good.

      5. meadowlark

        PERMANENT SLOW MOTION REPLAY ?

        At the age of 74, I was born slightly too early for the digital age. I can still remember seeing those giant spools of computer tape spinning in massive cabinets in the background on the TV show: "The Man From Uncle." And apparently, when the Americans first went to the moon when I was 25, the memory of the on board computer systems was about a tenth of what is now in a smart phone.

        However, I'm fascinated by all things IT wise even if I'm not up to speed with all the subjects discussed by the very highly qualified experts on this site. But the analogy you've given is spot on and I can't believe that this problem wasn't anticipated years ago. If I've got it right, then even if hundreds of thousands of software engineers, programmers etc were trained up to the degree required, it would take years before any difference was noted. And because of this deficit, all things IT are going to be relatively sluggish from now on.

        Trevor.

        P.S. Does this also mean that 'A.I.' will come grinding to a halt and so we can all sleep sounder now that super advanced Androids won't take over mankind after all.

        1. GrumpyOldBloke

          Re: PERMANENT SLOW MOTION REPLAY ?

          No Meadowlark, the super advanced androids will still take over mankind. The difference now is that they won't know what to do once the takeover is complete. Mankind will start referring to the androids as politicians and we will lament how nothing ever seems to change for the better. Expect the androids to one day start serving adverts and legislating for donors in the absence of any real AI.

          1. peterjames

            Re: PERMANENT SLOW MOTION REPLAY ?

            The fundamental issue being the increasing anti-intellectualism in the west - for some reason believing you can be super dumb and successful at the same time.

            Lacking human intelligence, what chance is there of artificial ever appearing.

            We'll just take a swipe at politicians instead - because we are the angry mob, we read the papers every day...

            Politicians, btw, with the lack of general brain capacity they represent, are doing a spectacularly good job.

            1. sisk Silver badge

              Re: PERMANENT SLOW MOTION REPLAY ?

              Politicians, btw, with the lack of general brain capacity they represent,

              Ignoring popular opinion in favor of facts, you'll find that the average POTUS candidate is slightly more intelligent than the average PhD candidate, even after the 2016 campaign.

              Actually, we don't know what Trump's IQ is. He's never opened his records AFAIK. Given his previous success in the business world, however, I'd guess his lack of effectiveness as POTUS is less down to intelligence and more down to the arrogant (and blatantly wrong) assumptions that running a nation is like running a business and that The Donald is perfect. Even now, after over a year in office, he seems to be running on those assumptions. At any rate his IQ would have to be well into the mentally retarded (using medical term here) and non-functional range to drop the average below the borderline genius range, so the above statement most likely still stands.

              But previous to him the "dumbest" President we had, based purely on IQ, was Dubbya. His IQ was "only" on par with an average PhD candidate. Which put him somewhere in the 80th or 90th percentile overall.

              In other words, even the dumbest successful politicians are probably smarter than most of us. Truly stupid politicians don't last long.

    4. smackbean

      Don't understand people who keep on about Java being 'slow' (whatever that means...). It's nonsense and anyone with half a brain knows that.

      https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2163411/is-java-really-slow

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Don't understand people who keep on about Java being 'slow' (whatever that means...). It's nonsense and anyone with half a brain knows that.

        It actually was comparatively slow 15 or 20 years ago. The issues were solved quite some time ago, but the reputation remains. It also probably doesn't help that there are a lot of inexperienced programmers using Java to write poorly optimized applications because it's the language used in most intro to programming courses. You wouldn't think many of those programs would be in the wild, but they are.

        1. TonyJ Silver badge
          Joke

          "...It actually was comparatively slow 15 or 20 years ago. .."

          Not like El Reg commentards to hold onto views they formed 20 years ago...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Java

      I used to make those Java / speed cracks too until I got a job at a place that built financial trading systems in pure Java. On commodity HP tin, we told clients the latency (time between an order hitting our border router to the result leaving our border router) was guaranteed to be under 10ms (1/100th of a sec), but by the time I left - several years ago - it was already 20x faster than that, and they were only just beginning to experiment with expensive high-performance NICs and suchlike. Oh yes, and tens of thousands of orders/sec.

      Yes, some of the commodity tin was tricked out with more RAM than I had disk space not long before, but still java. I'm never knocking it for performance again.

      Syntax, on the other hand,...

    6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      WTF?

      "..make chip designers much more conservative..as they pause to wonder..those innovations could..,

      Shouldn't a security impact assessment be part of every commercial product?

      Oh no, sorry. Chip designers are special.

      Why? Because of the scale of their f**kups?

      Not everyone used the same processor for remote management

      But everyone did manage to f**k the implementation up.

    7. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Holmes

      "make messy code performant"

      Here's a radical idea...

      Don't make messy code.

      To all those who for years sneered at low-level code optimisation over that myth called "portability", for your delectation may I present to you a big old plate of Just Deserts.

      Bon Appetit.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    It would seem that code will need to be tighter and more thought out. I suspect the days of bloatware and those who can only write bloatware are doomed. It's also quite possible that many of the tools will need to be re-written in order to output optimum code. OTOH, those who can produce tight code with no bloat, etc. will do very well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: so Desperation

      RIP Adobe! :)

      1. dbayly

        Re: so Desperation

        RIP Microsft!

        1. yoganmahew

          Re: so Desperation

          My 27 years of assembler finally will bear fruit?

          1. Christian Berger Silver badge

            Re: so Desperation

            Well if you're good at assembler your're likely one of the people who will write decent code in any language.

            1. John Styles

              Re: so Desperation

              I am actually dubious of this, I think inability to write code well in high level languages because of over-fixation on low level details that don't matter' is about as common a failure mode of developers as 'writing tremendously inefficient code because of too limited understanding of what is actually going on'.

            2. herman Silver badge

              Re: so Desperation

              It is all ALGOL to me.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: so Desperation

            So looking forward to going back to

            __asm

            {

            mov eax, num ; Get first argument ...

            Have to dig out my old Microsoft Programmers reference with all the interrupts in it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RIIP Windoze ;-)

      1. HmmmYes Silver badge

        I, for one, welcome our new Erlang/OTP overlords.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. itzman

      It would seem that code will need to be tighter

      Yes.

      Instead of bloatware and throw big tin at it, how about actually learning how to write good code?

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: It would seem that code will need to be tighter

        Instead of bloatware and throw big tin at it, how about actually learning how to write good code?

        But we've been saying that ever since MS brought us the "Too slow? buy a new machine. Uses too much memory? Buy more!" mantra in the mid 90's.

        And nothing ever happened, until 'almost-smart' phones became available, and suddenly everyone was concerned with lean, efficient programming. Then phones became more powerful, and once again, that philosophy died.

        Same will happen this time around. Lowest-common-denominator programmers and techniques will still be employed - "You just need to but a more expensive machine! More cores, more Mhz!"

    4. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "It would seem that code will need to be tighter and more thought out."

      Nope, because there are still deadlines to consider. You know the saying: you can either do it fast or do it right, unless you can find that person who can break the rules and do things RightFast.

    5. cosmogoblin

      Back in the 8-bit days of 64kB of RAM and no HDD, programmers learned to make neat and optimised code to work within the constraints. As memory increased, these skills withered and atrophied.

      I had high hopes for smartphone apps - with so many cheap Android phones having less than 100MB, would developers relearn efficient design? The answer is yes and no: I have a lot of fairly complex apps by small studios that take up a few hundred kB. But the big developers seem incapable of doing the same. How is Stellarium 43MB and CoPilot 57MB (without maps), but Kindle is a whopping 339MB? Why is the Google search app larger than any graphical game I have installed?

      1. ChrisC

        "As memory increased, these skills withered and atrophied."

        In the world of desktop/mobile/web coding, perhaps. The world of low-cost embedded coding still heavily relies on people understanding how to wring every last drop of performance out of the processor - in my near 2 decades in the business the most powerful processor I've ever used had 256KB of flash and 64KB of SRAM, and at the other end of spectrum I've also written firmware for a processor with 1KB of flash and no SRAM, just a handful of general purpose registers. Bloody good fun, and I get paid quite nicely for doing it too :-)

        1. Gel

          My first was 256 bytes of firmware in a CDP1802. It sold quite well. Written in hex without an assembler.

          A lot of fudges were required to fit it into that space. The 256 bytes required two 256*4 eproms.

          Modern programmers have lost the art of squeezing every last drop out of an MCU. Most are frightened of assembler. Its surprising how competent you become with hex after a while. Assembler makes life a lot easier. Though I think we should look to VHDL for the way forward. This is what bitcoin miners use.

        2. rajivdx

          Chris, the times are a changing for embedded devices too - they now sport 1GB of RAM, 8GB of Flash, run Linux, take 2 minutes to boot, poorly programmed by amateurs and do things as mundane as turning a light ON or OFF.

      2. emullinsabq

        programmers learned to make neat and optimised code to work within the constraints. As memory increased, these skills withered and atrophied.

        That isn't quite true. I don't deny that there are plenty of people lacking skills today, but there were good reasons for reducing that optimization. It was routine in those days to pack nybbles together for both inputs/outputs because you could fit two into a byte. This saved space, but it had consequences when it came to writing clear code, and debugging it.

        One of the horrible habits that arose out of that era was mixing an error condition with the return value. so you'd check for the error (often -1) otherwise treat the return normally. It's so routine you still see that today, and it's awful compared to something like:

        if (!getch(&ch)) { handle_error(); }

        in which you separate the error from the return value, and are more likely to realize that there IS an error possibility.

      3. TonyJ Silver badge

        "...Back in the 8-bit days of 64kB of RAM and no HDD, programmers learned to make neat and optimised code to work within the constraints. As memory increased, these skills withered and atrophied..."

        I remember reading an article back in the day about the guy who was tasked with converting Sim City from the Amiga to the humble BBC.

        Apparently, there was one routine in the Amiga that used considerably more memory than was wholly available on the Beeb.

        And yet (apart from graphically of course), he pretty much nailed it with a like-for-like reproduction.

        At college I had to learn to program in assembly - in hex - on "development boards" with <8KB RAM so it was imperative that anything you tried to do was neat.

        Mind you I was never very good at it myself but some of the others there had a natural gift for it that was staggering.

      4. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        My guess is the compiled code is still relatively small, but that 339MB is assets ( high res images, "Welcome to Kindle" videos, etc )

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