For decades now, lazy programmers have relied on ever-faster processors and ever-larger memories to avoid learning about subtle but efficient algorithms and fast data structures with intricate invariants. Now the jig is up.
“Death Notice: Moore's Law. 19 April 1965 — 2 January 2018”
Mark Pesce, The Register, January 24, 2018
The computer science behind microprocessor design has therefore found itself making a rapid U-turn as it learns that its optimization techniques can be weaponized. The huge costs and Meltdown and Spectre — which no one can even guess at today — will make chip designers much more conservative in their performance innovations, as they pause to wonder if every one of those innovations could, at some future point, lead to the kind of chaos that has engulfed us all over the last weeks.
One thing has already become clear: in the short term, performance will go backwards. The steady … improvements every software engineer could rely on to make messy code performant can no longer be guaranteed. …
Going forward, the game changes from “cheaper and faster” to “sleeker and wiser.” Software optimizations — despite their Spectre-like risks — will take the lead over the next decades. …
From here on in, we're going to have to work for it.