Thursday, April 21, 2005

Moore's Law

EETimes has an article this week commemorating the invention of Moore’s Law. In 1971 Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, predicted that the density of transistors on a computer chip would be doubled every 18 months. Astoundingly, he was precisely right, and speculation about the time that Moore’s Law would break down – that we would hit a wall and be unable to make computers even smaller and more powerful – has become one of the mainstays of technology pundits. That means that since Moore made his prediction, the density of transistors on a chip has increased by more than 2 to the power of 22, or by more than fifteen million (!).

But what I found most interesting is the EETimes interpretation. The reason Moore’s Law has held, they say, is that it is so catchy, so exciting, and so compelling, that generations of engineers have set it as their goal. When they plan their new chip, due out in 18 months, they plan it to be twice as dense as the current one. Moore’s Law has held because technologists have taken it as a given that they must achieve it, because if they won’t, their competitors, following the same roadmap, will.

Big ideas and big goals lead to big achievements


At 5:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps its a limitation and keeps engineers from "thinking outside the box"?

At 7:28 AM, Blogger cosmopolitan life said...

Well, there's a lot of "out of the box" thinking involved in achieving Moore's Law. The technology has been changed in radical ways over the past few decades. Are you implying that without it the advances would have been even more dramatic, or that silicon would have been replaced with something dramatically smaller? Tough to prove, but I don't think so...

At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't say its easy to prove (and I worked at Intel for 8 years). Sometime we run ahead with our current thought process of how to shrink more cicuitry onto less silicon -- perhaps at the expense of radically different technologies (ie, stay with what works - why break the mold).

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