"CMOS is really good stuff," Colwell said. "There are [only] two or three [new technologies] that are promising at all. It's just hard to beat CMOS."
Some ways to buy performance in the meanwhile could be through the use of new materials, photonics, optics and 3-D stacking, in which transistors are placed on top of each other.
Outside of the computer industry, the auto industry will feel the biggest impact of the end of Moore's Law, Colwell said. The last 30 years of innovation in cars such as navigation systems, antilock breaks, guidance systems and others have all been driven by semiconductors.
"I think that's really cool but all of it is based on computers. If we stall out, what are they going to do differently from generation to generation?" Colwell said. "I think they have been living off the electronics for the last 20 to 30 years, and if we don't continually feed them huge increases, it's not clear what they will do next."
Colwell also threw a dart at his former employer, Intel, where he was the chief architect for all Pentium chips.
"Intel is terrible at anticipating. They don't look down the road and say 'five years from now the rules will be different, I need to react today, I'm going to put some bets on the table'. There's some of that, but not a lot. But what they are really good at is reacting," said Colwell.