|The Central Processing Unit (CPU)--the component that has defined the performance of your computer for many years--has hit a wall.|
In fact, the next-generation of CPUs, including Intel's forthcoming Sandy Bridge processor, have to contend with multiple walls--a memory bottleneck (the bandwidth of the channel between the CPU and a computer's memory); the instruction level parallelism (ILP) wall (the availability of enough discrete parallel instructions for a multi-core chip) and the power wall (the chip's overall temperature and power consumption).
Of the three, the power wall is now arguably the defining limit of the power of the modern CPU. As CPUs have become more capable, their energy consumption and heat production has grown rapidly. It's a problem so tenacious that chip manufacturers have been forced to create "systems on a chip"--conurbations of smaller, specialized processors. These systems are so sprawling and diverse that they've caused long-time industry observers like Linley Gwennap of Microprocessor Report to question whether the original definition of a CPU even applies to today's chips.
Nevertheless, I found it to be a good read, nice to see some industry insight on the situation.