Metaverse will need ‘a 1,000-times increase’ in computing power, Intel executive says

The metaverse represents a ‘utopian convergence of digital experiences’, the executive claimed, but we are unlikely to reach anything near that soon

Adam Smith
Thursday 16 December 2021 13:07 GMT
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Intel has claimed that the metaverse will require 1,000 times more computing power than what is currently available.

The metaverse, which aims to bring about a digitally-connected ecosystem of platforms across multiple devices, is still yet to be realized in any concrete form. Many technology companies, most notably Facebook, which rebranded to Meta, believe this will be the future of how we use computers.

“The term ‘metaverse’ was coined by Neal Stephenson in a science fiction novel almost 30 years ago. In recent years, metaverse has come to represent a utopian convergence of digital experiences fueled by Moore’s Law – an aspiration to enable rich, real-time, globally-interconnected virtual- and augmented-reality environments that will enable billions of people to work, play, collaborate and socialize in entirely new ways”, writes Intel vice president Raja Koduri.

Mr Stephenson’s novel, Snow Crash, paints the metaverse as a poor, desperate nation governed by corporate franchises that is necessary because the real world has become unbearable to live in, though that did not appear in Mr Koduri’s summary.

Nevertheless, the executive said that industry will “need several orders of magnitude more powerful computing capability, accessible at much lower latencies across a multitude of device form factors” in order to create this vision.

“Truly persistent and immersive computing, at scale and accessible by billions of humans in real time, will require even more: a 1,000-times increase in computational efficiency from today’s state of the art.”

This is because of the computational prowess needed to simulate convincing clothing and appearance of users, the sensory data gathered from their movements, and audio information – not to mention transmitting all of that in real time. Meta’s Horizon Worlds, its flagship VR experience, can currently only support 20 people at a time.

Moore’s Law, which holds that computational capacity doubles every two years, means that a realistic metaverse is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Technology companies such as Intel, Samsung, and IBM are working on the problem – with the latter two recently proposing a new semiconductor chip that could revolutionise transistor design.

The companies claim that they could offer “two times improvement in performance or an 85 percent reduction in energy use” and make smartphone batteries last for one week. It could also reduce the carbon footprint of energy-intensive tech such as crypto mining, data encryption, and potentially support a digital universe.

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