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Intel Hardware

End of Moore's Law in 10-15 years? 248

javipas writes "In 1965 Gordon Moore — Intel's co-founder — predicted that the number of transistors on integrated circuits would double every two years. Moore's Law has been with us for over 40 years, but it seems that the limits of microelectronics are now not that far from us. Moore has predicted the end of his own law in 10 to 15 years, but he predicted that end before, and failed."
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End of Moore's Law in 10-15 years?

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  • by benhocking ( 724439 ) <> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:12AM (#20667947) Homepage Journal
    To simplify things a bit, a law is an observation, whereas a theory is an explanation. They are not the same thing, but you can have laws and theories dealing with the same subject matter.
  • Nope, nope, and nope (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:31AM (#20668227)
    First of all you've misquoted Moore's law.

    Secondly it's not so much a "law", as a consequence of how long it takes to amortize the cost of a fab plant.

    Thirdly, it's tied to 2-D circuit layouts. If and when 3-D IC technology becomes practical, then all we need is 2^1/3 percent or about 22% linear shrink every year, which is somewhat more maintainable for a few more generations.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:38AM (#20668329) Homepage Journal
    It's not a law, it's simply an observation that within Intel, that's more or less the rate of progress. As we saw with the P-4 chip the problem we bumped into was not Moore's Law, but the laws of thermodynamics. So we found a good enough reason to go to multicore CPU's. Eventually though you do bump into Albert Einstein. In 1 billionth of a second, light travels about 1 foot so the entire circuit length from end to end, in order to have a switching frequency of 1 billionth of a second, has to be less than one foot.
  • by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:25PM (#20669003) Journal
    Moore's law is not about physics it's about economics.

    Your point on economics is well taken. However, there is one aspect of physics in Moore's law - that the equations governing a MOS transistor scale with size. That is, if you make a transistor that is 1/2 the size in all dimensions, and you run it at 1/2 the voltage, it will behave exactly the same as the original. So there has always been a clear development path for doubling your transistor density - cutting the size in half.

    Other technologies (internal combustion engines, batteries, etc) improve in fits and starts - sometimes dramatically - but not by the continuous scaling of a single parameter.

    (This is in no way minimizing the enormous technical challenges of making and designing smaller and smaller transistors. It's just that you know that if you can figure out the fabrication, you know it will work.)

  • by cciRRus ( 889392 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @01:10PM (#20669659)
    From Wikipedia []:

    Moore's Law describes an important trend in the history of computer hardware: that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.
    It has to do with the number of transistors and not the operating frequency.
  • by Frenchy_2001 ( 659163 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @01:21PM (#20669827)
    If you think that Moore's Law is about the frequency of the processor, you are badly mistaken (but it's mostly not your fault as this is what it has been summarized to in the media).

    Moore's Law is a law of economics, scale and progress.
    The gist is that computing power at a given cost will double every 18 months. It does not matter if this progression is achieved by cranking the frequency (MHz rule) or by increasing the number of transistor and parallel processing (Core rule). This is all about the economics of processing power.

    It comes from the fact that the industry transitions to a new, finer technology every 12-18 months and hence can build more, faster transistors in a given area of silicon.

    The problem is that each new transition comes with new challenges and as long as the challenge is not overcome or at least has a roadmap to a solution, there is a risk the progression stops here. This happens every few years. This mostly tells us they have plans for progressions for the next 10-15 years and unless we have newer discoveries in the mean time (which has always happened so far), we will not overcome this limit. 10 years is a long time in term of scientific discoveries...
  • by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @01:58PM (#20670445) Homepage Journal
    Moore is being short-sighted about his own law. It's not about silicon. If you extraploate backwards from the first integrated chip you see that "Moore's Law" has been in effect for over 100 years. It started with manual switches, then moved to electric motor switching, then to vacuum tubes, then to transistors, then to integrated circuits. Every one of those mediums has been subject to and demonstrates Moore's Law. Graph it and you'll see. It's a perfect logarithmic line. Every time the method itself peaks of its own accord a new medium is found which can continue the progress. (Any familiar with the growth of telco equipment can see this in the switching systems: Electric switches to step systems to crossbar to ESS.) If IC does run out, there is a future of possibilities: holographic, quantum, bio, etc. Moore's Law is like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps going.

"Can you program?" "Well, I'm literate, if that's what you mean!"