Is innovation always a good thing?

Treehugger tells me: Intel announces revolutionary 3D transistors, 50%+ more energy efficient than previous generation. Wow, that sounds great!

But… is it, really, that good?

It’s my guess that the “50%+” is based on a comparison of some variety of like-with-like, new generation versus old, such that, for instance, to gain processing power of 1000 wibblets using old-hat fuddy-duddy 2D transistors you’d get a whopping 1500+ wibblets using the new-fangled sparkly 3D ones.

That still sounds like it’s good (even though I made up the units — I’m sure you spotted that).

The trouble is, making things uses energy. The old thingummies have already been made. Before we can use the new thingummies, we have to do two things:

  1. make the new thingummies and
  2. throw the old thingummies on the scrap heap (or, preferably, recycle them).

My question is: what is the energy efficiency bonus after factoring in the cost of making the new thingummies and recycling the old ones?

… and if the answer to that question is “well, actually, when you put it that way, not very much %” then isn’t it a case of close — but in reality no cigar?

“The world is using up its natural resources at an alarming rate, and this has caused a permanent shift in their value.  We all need to adjust our behavior to this new environment. It would help if we did it quickly.”

Jeremy Grantham (c/o Grist).

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About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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