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A young Gordon Moore circa 1975  (Source: Reuters)
Gordon Moore took part in the afternoon keynote during IDF 2007

The fall edition of the 2007 Intel Developer Forum (IDF) is officially underway from the San Francisco Moscone Center.  The Tuesday morning keynote featured more details about the Nehalem architecture as one of the main points of the discussion.

In a later session, Dr. Moira Gunn, host of NPR Tech Nation, hosted a fireside chat with Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder and creator of Moore's Law.  Moore received a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowded conference hall packed with thousands of attendees more than willing to respect a Silicon Valley legend.  

Of course, the question on everyone's mind was the validity of Moore's Law. Specifically, whether or not it holds up today the same way it did when Moore first documented his observations almost forty years ago.

Moore's Law -- actually more of a conjecture -- essentially states the number of transistors placed on an integrated circuit doubles every two years.  His observation helped outline trends the semiconductor industry for more than 40 years. 

"We have another decade, a decade and a half, before we hit something that is fairly fundamental," Moore said during the session.  That something "fundamental" is material science.  Even the most advanced lithography conceivable today can't eliminate the brick wall that is the nanoscale. 

Even at some point, lining up individual atoms no longer becomes feasible for transistor design.  Researchers from Intel are already easing into the field of using carbon nanotubes for processor interconnects; a team from the University of Pennsylvania just announced a new method for storing data via phase-changing nanowires.

"It's an exciting time," he said.  "I'd love to come back in 100 years and see what happened in the meantime."

Of course, even Moore's understanding of transistor trends is no match for the prowess of ambitious engineers. Conventional computing principles go out the window with the advent of quantum computing, for example.  Other types of alternative computing, including biological-based neural-computing, does not readily translate to transistor-count -- but that hasn't stopped researchers from making enormous progress in the last few years.

The death of Moore's Law is imminent, but new research and new materials assure that its successor will pack the same punch.

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RE: Already dead
By KristopherKubicki on 9/19/2007 12:57:01 PM , Rating: 3
I agree completely. However I think you have to look at the density function over some actual density (mm^2 or what-have-you). I'm sure several of those 32nm shuttles fit on a single Itanium die.

RE: Already dead
By masher2 on 9/19/2007 1:04:43 PM , Rating: 3
> "However I think you have to look at the density function over some actual density (mm^2 or what-have-you). "

That's what the process node gives you. Average feature size yields a linear metric for transistor density.

Of course, the process node gives you minimum feature size, not mean size, but that's exactly what Moore's Law intends. Every new nodes halves the minimum feature size, giving us the potential to double transistor counts, whether or not its actually done.

RE: Already dead
By JarredWalton on 9/19/2007 6:10:14 PM , Rating: 2
Wasn't the original "Moore's Law" statement more an analysis of manufacturing ideals as opposed to even transistor counts? I believe it was from Moore pointing out that the "sweet spot" in terms of minimum cost involved related to transistor count (taking into account manufacturing and other influences) was doubling every ~12 months, but that the rate would likely slow down. So if we call it every 18-24 months over the long haul, and the first ICs in 1965 were around 60 transistors... well, we're doing okay, but all good guesses come to an end at some point. :)

RE: Already dead
By JumpingJack on 9/20/2007 9:42:29 PM , Rating: 2
That's what the process node gives you. Average feature size yields a linear metric for transistor density.

NO.... each node 1/2 the area or double the density.... this is not rocket science.

A process node, 90 nm .. 65 nm what have you... reverse to a single dimension, it is defined in the industry as the distance that would measure 1/2 the pitch between the two closest parallel metal lines in the first metallization layer.

Again... the node choice through time are made by taking a scaling factor of 0.7 65nm is 0.7 of 90 nm, 45 nm is 0.7 of 65 nm.... that is in ONE dimension. Area is 2 dimension.

Area = width x height scale width by 0.7, and height by 0.7 so
NewArea = 0.7 x width x 0.7 x height = (0.7x0.7)width x height
NewArea = 0.49x(width x height) = 0.49 X Area

So each scaling to the next node 1/2 the area or doubles the density. This is Moores law...

This is too funny.

"The 32nm test shuttle that Intel announced yesterday was 1.9 billion transistors per chip"

Ah, but that's 2 years away at least.

Do you not see the irony here... first you say Moore's law is dead, then you basically state Moore's law in your rebuttal to Kris.

45 nm will launch Nov. 12th, 2 years later in 2009 32 nm will launch... Moore's Law as defined.

RE: Already dead
By Oregonian2 on 9/19/2007 1:54:30 PM , Rating: 2
The "law" as usually presented (without regard to the more historically correct conjecture not presented as a "law") isn't that trannie density doubles every two years, but the total number on the die does. So even if they use the same process, doubling the die's area would satisfy the law's continuance. Instead it's usually been a combination of the two. Its likewise a negative if dies are made smaller (which they want to do, counter to continuing the law). One of the limiting factors is 'what the heck to do with the trannies even if we can make it'. Multi-cores seems to be the answer short term.

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