Quantum information processing and its associated technologies have reached a pivotal stage in their development, with many experiments having established the basic building blocks. Moving forward, the challenge is to scale up to larger machines capable of performing computational tasks not possible today. This raises questions that need to be urgently addressed, such as what resources these machines will consume and how large will they be. Here we estimate the resources required to execute Shor’s factoring algorithm on an atom-optics quantum computer architecture. We determine the runtime and size of the computer as a function of the problem size and physical error rate. Our results suggest that once the physical error rate is low enough to allow quantum error correction, optimization to reduce resources and increase performance will come mostly from integrating algorithms and circuits within the error correction environment, rather than from improving the physical hardware.