and in Earth-imaging satellites is under way. These global commercial services will have a profound impact on future naval operations. They will be available to cooperative forces as well as adversaries around the world. The Department of the Navy must adopt these services but adapt them to fit its particular needs while providing the necessary security.


Computers and related software that form computational capability are among the most important technologies that will control the makeup and performance of future naval forces. As information is key to military success, computation is key to information, its acquisition, its extraction, and its use. In Chapter 2, the panel examines the status and trends in computer hardware, software, and key applications, such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

Silicon microelectronics has been the engine of the tremendous computer technology growth over the past 40 years. The linewidths used in making computer chips have decreased exponentially, and the number of transistors per chip has increased correspondingly over this time period. This has resulted in ever-increasing computational power. Although the panel sees a number of practical problems that must be solved, there appears to be no fundamental physical limit to continuing this growth out to the year 2035, the time horizon of this study.

The panel analyzed and projected computer performance in two distinct families: high-performance computing and functional/affordable computing. High-performance computing represents the state of the art in computational speed, storage capacity, and transmission rates. The Cray T90 is an example of this type of computer. The panel studied the progression of such computers over the past 40 years and used these data to extrapolate into the future. The processing speed of high-performance computers has consistently increased at an annual rate of 60 percent, doubling every 18 months, or 100 times per decade. Many computer and materials scientists believe that the number of transistors per chip will continue to increase over the next 40 years despite the growing cost of fabrication facilities and likely changes in building-block materials, architectures, and lithography techniques.

The quest for ever-greater computing power will be driven by the demands of cyberspace, entertainment, and other commercial businesses. If the past trends continue, the operating speeds of high-performance computers in 2035 are expected to be in excess of 1 petaflop, i.e., 1015 floating point operations per second, and memory size will be 10 terabytes. It is estimated that the human brain has a processing power of 1 petaflop, and so computers in 2035 may well become on-body personal assistants that provide a high degree of intelligent support.

Functional or affordable computing refers to computers that are mass produced and sold at costs that make them accessible to many people. A current example is the Intel Pentium Pro personal computer. The growth in capability of

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