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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 JumpingJack on 9/21/2007 2:15:51 AM , Rating: 2
To an extent ... however, if you read Moore's papers, it is really just a statement of an observation, cleverly graphed. The technicality of the shrink is an engineering problem but the rate of the shrink is driven by economics.

The motivation for shrinking is driven by reduction of costs, hence Moore's famous plot is pitched in terms of costs vs number of transistors separated into temporal curves. He simply plotted the minima in costs for a set transistor count and extrapolated the rate at which transistors increased per unit area over time.

The trend has held true since 1975 or so.... so it is not meaningless, and reflects the drive and competitive nature of this industry.

In 1965 he postulated this rate, in 1975 he revised his rate curve, and in 2007 he predicted the end... I would listen as he seems to know what he is saying :) ...

The scary part of this is when the progress does reach it's end using conventional semiconductor methods, a drastic paradigm shift will need to take place ... it will be interesting to see what that will turn out to be... new materials, completely new computational method for binary work (quantum computing, spintronics, ...) who knows.


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