Laugh if you must, but I find the editorial content of Esquire (and GQ) superb, and am recommending an article from the December issue related to data centers and computing. Author Douglas Fox introduces us to Stanford professor Kwabena Boahen, who is studying neuromorphic engineering.
Check out the energy use estimates in the sidebar, comparing the human brain to a desktop, and to data centers. Note that even if we had the code to mimic human brain function and capacity, we'd need a data center drawing 60 MW to handle the computations and data storage.
Fox does a damned decent job explaining the energy issues of data centers (about two thirds of the way in). Not to be skeptical, but the claim that an internet search uses the equivalent energy of burning a match harkens back to the discussion in the industry a year or two ago where people were saying it was the equivalent of heating the water for a cup of coffee.
I'll leave all of that to the experts, but I do agree with the premise that there are "epic challenges ahead for the computer industry" related to energy, and that a likely combination of energy efficient technology and perhaps whole new ways of performing computational tasks will be needed to make the next leap forward.
Addendum: I'm embarrassed to say that the Esquire piece is essentially a partial reprint of an article that first appeared in Discover, and has also been reprinted in The Best Technology Writing 2010. Both are a bit longer, and include material on IBM's interest in neuromorphic computing. Kudos to Douglas Fox for leveraging his work through multiple outlets.