Moore's Law

Moore's Law

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Moore's law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware
History of computing hardware
The history of computing hardware is the record of the ongoing effort to make computer hardware faster, cheaper, and capable of storing more data....

: the number of transistor
Transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

s that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

 doubles approximately every two years.
This trend has continued for more than half a century. 2005 sources expected it to continue until at least 2015 or 2020. However, the 2010 update to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors
International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors
The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors is a set of documents produced by a group of semiconductor industry experts. These experts are representative of the sponsoring organisations which include the Semiconductor Industry Associations of the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea and...

 has growth slowing at the end of 2013, after which time transistor counts and densities are to double only every 3 years.

The capabilities of many digital electronic devices are strongly linked to Moore's law: processing speed
Clock rate
The clock rate typically refers to the frequency that a CPU is running at.For example, a crystal oscillator frequency reference typically is synonymous with a fixed sinusoidal waveform, a clock rate is that frequency reference translated by electronic circuitry into a corresponding square wave...

, memory capacity
Ram
-Animals:*Ram, an uncastrated male sheep*Ram cichlid, a species of freshwater fish endemic to Colombia and Venezuela-Military:*Battering ram*Ramming, a military tactic in which one vehicle runs into another...

, sensors and even the number and size of pixel
Pixel
In digital imaging, a pixel, or pel, is a single point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable screen element in a display device; it is the smallest unit of picture that can be represented or controlled....

s in digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s.
All of these are improving at (roughly) exponential
Exponential growth
Exponential growth occurs when the growth rate of a mathematical function is proportional to the function's current value...

 rates as well (see Other formulations and similar laws).
This exponential improvement has dramatically enhanced the impact of digital electronics in nearly every segment of the world economy.
Moore's law describes a driving force of technological and social change in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore
Gordon Moore
Gordon Earle Moore is the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation and the author of Moore's Law .-Life and career:...

, who described the trend in his 1965 paper.
The paper noted that the number of components in integrated circuits had doubled every year from the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 until 1965 and predicted that the trend would continue "for at least ten years". His prediction has proved to be uncannily accurate, in part because the law is now used in the semiconductor
Semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

 industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

.

History


The term "Moore's law" was coined around 1970 by the Caltech professor, VLSI
Very-large-scale integration
Very-large-scale integration is the process of creating integrated circuits by combining thousands of transistors into a single chip. VLSI began in the 1970s when complex semiconductor and communication technologies were being developed. The microprocessor is a VLSI device.The first semiconductor...

 pioneer, and entrepreneur Carver Mead
Carver Mead
Carver Andress Mead is a US computer scientist. He currently holds the position of Gordon and Betty Moore Professor Emeritus of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology , having taught there for over 40 years.Mead studied electrical engineering at Caltech, getting...

.
Predictions of similar increases in computer power had existed years prior. Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS , was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which played a...

 in his 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence
Computing machinery and intelligence
Computing Machinery and Intelligence, written by Alan Turing and published in 1950 in Mind, is a seminal paper on the topic of artificial intelligence in which the concept of what is now known as the Turing test was introduced to a wide audience....

 had predicted that by the turn of the millennium, we would have "computers with a storage capacity of about 10^9", what today we would call "128 megabytes."
Moore may have heard Douglas Engelbart
Douglas Engelbart
Douglas Carl Engelbart is an American inventor, and an early computer and internet pioneer. He is best known for his work on the challenges of human-computer interaction, resulting in the invention of the computer mouse, and the development of hypertext, networked computers, and precursors to GUIs...

, a co-inventor of today's mechanical computer mouse, discuss the projected downscaling of integrated circuit size in a 1960 lecture.
A New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

article published August 31, 2009, credits Engelbart as having made the prediction in 1959.

Moore's original statement that transistor counts had doubled every year can be found in his publication "Cramming more components onto integrated circuits", Electronics Magazine
Electronics (magazine)
Electronics was an American trade journal that covered the radio industry and its later spin-offs in the mid to late 1900s. Published by McGraw-Hill and Penton Publishing , its first issue was dated in April 1930....

19 April 1965:
Moore slightly altered the formulation of the law over time, in retrospect bolstering the perceived accuracy of his law. Most notably, in 1975, Moore altered his projection to a doubling every two years. Despite popular misconception, he is adamant that he did not predict a doubling "every 18 months." However, David House, an Intel colleague, had factored in the increasing performance of transistors to conclude that integrated circuits would double in performance every 18 months.

In April 2005, Intel offered US$10,000 to purchase a copy of the original Electronics Magazine issue in which Moore's article appeared. An engineer living in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 was the first to find a copy and offer it to Intel.

Other formulations and similar laws


Several measures of digital technology are improving at exponential rates related to Moore's law, including the size, cost, density and speed of components. Moore himself wrote only about the density of components (or transistors) at minimum cost.

Transistors per integrated circuit. The most popular formulation is of the doubling of the number of transistor
Transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

s on integrated circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

s every two years. At the end of the 1970s, Moore's law became known as the limit for the number of transistors on the most complex chips. Recent trends show that this rate has been maintained into 2007.

Density at minimum cost per transistor. This is the formulation given in Moore's 1965 paper. It is not just about the density of transistors that can be achieved, but about the density of transistors at which the cost per transistor is the lowest.
As more transistors are put on a chip, the cost to make each transistor decreases, but the chance that the chip will not work due to a defect increases. In 1965, Moore examined the density of transistors at which cost is minimized, and observed that, as transistors were made smaller through advances in photolithography
Photolithography
Photolithography is a process used in microfabrication to selectively remove parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate. It uses light to transfer a geometric pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitive chemical "photoresist", or simply "resist," on the substrate...

, this number would increase at "a rate of roughly a factor of two per year". Current state-of-the-art photolithography tools use deep ultraviolet (DUV) light from excimer
Excimer
An excimer is a short-lived dimeric or heterodimeric molecule formed from two species, at least one of which is in an electronic excited state. Excimers are often diatomic and are composed of two atoms or molecules that would not bond if both were in the ground state. The lifetime of an excimer is...

 lasers with wavelengths of 248 and 193 nm — the dominant lithography technology today is thus also called "excimer laser lithography" — which has enabled minimum feature sizes in chip manufacturing to shrink from 0.5 micrometer in 1990 to 45 nanometers and below in 2010. This trend is expected to continue into this decade for even denser chips, with minimum features approaching 10 nanometers. Excimer laser lithography has thus played a critical role in the continued advance of Moore's Law for the last 20 years.

Hard disk storage cost per unit of information. A similar law (sometimes called Kryder's Law
Mark Kryder
Mark Kryder was Seagate Corp.'s senior vice president of research and chief technology officer.Kryder holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a Ph.D...

) has held for hard disk
Hard disk
A hard disk drive is a non-volatile, random access digital magnetic data storage device. It features rotating rigid platters on a motor-driven spindle within a protective enclosure. Data is magnetically read from and written to the platter by read/write heads that float on a film of air above the...

 storage cost per unit of information.
The rate of progression in disk storage
Disk storage
Disk storage or disc storage is a general category of storage mechanisms, in which data are digitally recorded by various electronic, magnetic, optical, or mechanical methods on a surface layer deposited of one or more planar, round and rotating disks...

 over the past decades has actually sped up more than once, corresponding to the utilization of error correcting codes, the magnetoresistive effect
Magnetoresistance
Magnetoresistance is the property of a material to change the value of its electrical resistance when an external magnetic field is applied to it. The effect was first discovered by William Thomson in 1856, but he was unable to lower the electrical resistance of anything by more than 5%. This...

 and the giant magnetoresistive effect
Giant magnetoresistive effect
Giant magnetoresistance is a quantum mechanical magnetoresistance effect observed in thin-film structures composed of alternating ferromagnetic and non-magnetic layers...

. The current rate of increase in hard drive capacity is roughly similar to the rate of increase in transistor count. Recent trends show that this rate has been maintained into 2007.

Network capacity. According to Gerry/Gerald Butters, the former head of Lucent's Optical Networking Group at Bell Labs
Bell Labs
Bell Laboratories is the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company , half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.Bell Laboratories operates its...

, there is another version, called Butter's Law of Photonics, a formulation which deliberately parallels Moore's law. Butter's law says that the amount of data coming out of an optical fiber is doubling every nine months. Thus, the cost of transmitting a bit over an optical network decreases by half every nine months. The availability of wavelength-division multiplexing
Wavelength-division multiplexing
In fiber-optic communications, wavelength-division multiplexing is a technology which multiplexes a number of optical carrier signals onto a single optical fiber by using different wavelengths of laser light...

 (sometimes called "WDM") increased the capacity that could be placed on a single fiber by as much as a factor of 100. Optical networking and dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) is rapidly bringing down the cost of networking, and further progress seems assured. As a result, the wholesale price of data traffic collapsed in the dot-com bubble
Dot-com bubble
The dot-com bubble was a speculative bubble covering roughly 1995–2000 during which stock markets in industrialized nations saw their equity value rise rapidly from growth in the more...

. Nielsen's Law says that the bandwidth available to users increases by 50% annually.

Pixels per dollar. Similarly, Barry Hendy of Kodak Australia has plotted the "pixels per dollar" as a basic measure of value for a digital camera, demonstrating the historical linearity (on a log scale) of this market and the opportunity to predict the future trend of digital camera price, LCD and LED screens and resolution.

The Great Moore's Law Compensator (TGMLC), generally referred to as bloat
Software bloat
Software bloat is a process whereby successive versions of a computer program include an increasing proportion of unnecessary features that are not used by end users, or generally use more system resources than necessary, while offering little or no benefit to its users.-Causes:Software developers...

, and also known as Wirth's law
Wirth's law
Wirth's law is a computing adage made popular by Niklaus Wirth in 1995:Wirth attributed the saying to Martin Reiser, who, in the preface to his book on the Oberon System, wrote: The hope is that the progress in hardware will cure all software ills...

, is the principle that successive generations of computer software acquire enough bloat to offset the performance gains predicted by Moore's Law. In a 2008 article in InfoWorld
InfoWorld
InfoWorld is an information technology online media and events business operating under the umbrella of InfoWorld Media Group, a division of IDG...

, Randall C. Kennedy, formerly of Intel, introduces this term using successive versions of Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is a non-free commercial office suite of inter-related desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, introduced by Microsoft in August 1, 1989. Initially a marketing term for a bundled set of applications, the first version of...

 between the year 2000 and 2007 as his premise. Despite the gains in computational performance during this time period according to Moore's law, Office 2007 performed the same task at half the speed on a prototypical year 2007 computer as compared to Office 2000 on a year 2000 computer.

As a target for industry and a self-fulfilling prophecy


Although Moore's law was initially made in the form of an observation
Observation
Observation is either an activity of a living being, such as a human, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during this activity...

 and forecast
Forecasting
Forecasting is the process of making statements about events whose actual outcomes have not yet been observed. A commonplace example might be estimation for some variable of interest at some specified future date. Prediction is a similar, but more general term...

, the more widely it became accepted, the more it served as a goal for an entire industry. This drove both marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 and engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 departments of semiconductor
Semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

 manufacturers to focus enormous energy aiming for the specified increase in processing power that it was presumed one or more of their competitors would soon actually attain. In this regard, it can be viewed as a self-fulfilling prophecy
Self-fulfilling prophecy
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and...

.

Moore's Second Law



As the cost of computer power to the consumer
Consumer
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

 falls, the cost for producers to fulfill Moore's law follows an opposite trend: R&D, manufacturing, and test costs have increased steadily with each new generation of chips. Rising manufacturing costs are an important consideration for the sustaining of Moore's law.
This had led to the formulation of "Moore's second law", which is that the capital
Financial capital
Financial capital can refer to money used by entrepreneurs and businesses to buy what they need to make their products or provide their services or to that sector of the economy based on its operation, i.e. retail, corporate, investment banking, etc....

 cost of a semiconductor fab also increases exponentially over time.

Materials required for advancing technology (e.g., photoresist
Photoresist
A photoresist is a light-sensitive material used in several industrial processes, such as photolithography and photoengraving to form a patterned coating on a surface.-Tone:Photoresists are classified into two groups: positive resists and negative resists....

s and other polymers and industrial chemicals) are derived from natural resources such as petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and so are affected by the cost and supply of these resources. Nevertheless, photoresist costs are coming down through more efficient delivery, though shortage risks remain.

Major enabling factors and future trends


Numerous innovations by a large number of scientists and engineers have been significant factors in the sustenance of Moore’s law since the beginning of the integrated circuit (IC) era. Whereas a detailed list of such significant contributions would certainly be desirable, below just a few innovations are listed as examples of breakthroughs that have played a critical role in the advancement of integrated circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

 technology by more than six orders of magnitude in less than five decades:
  • The foremost contribution, which is the raison d’etre for Moore's law, is the invention of the integrated circuit
    Integrated circuit
    An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

     itself, credited contemporaneously to Jack Kilby
    Jack Kilby
    Jack St. Clair Kilby was an American physicist who took part in the invention of the integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments in 1958. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000. He is credited with the invention of the integrated circuit or microchip...

     at Texas Instruments and Bob Noyce at Intel.
  • The invention of the complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS
    CMOS
    Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor is a technology for constructing integrated circuits. CMOS technology is used in microprocessors, microcontrollers, static RAM, and other digital logic circuits...

    ) process by Frank Wanlass
    Frank Wanlass
    Frank Marion Wanlass was an electrical engineer. He obtained his PhD from the University of Utah. He invented CMOS logic circuits in 1963 while working at Fairchild Semiconductor. He was given U.S. patent #3,356,858 for "Low Stand-By Power Complementary Field Effect Circuitry" in 1967...

     in 1963. A number of advances in CMOS technology by many workers in the semiconductor field since the work of Wanlass have enabled the extremely dense and high-performance ICs that the industry makes today.
  • The invention of the dynamic random access memory (DRAM
    Dram
    Dram or DRAM may refer to:As a unit of measure:* Dram , an imperial unit of mass and volume* Armenian dram, a monetary unit* Dirham, a unit of currency in several Arab nationsOther uses:...

    ) technology by R. Dennard at I.B.M. in 1967. that made it possible to fabricate single-transistor memory cells. Numerous subsequent major advances in memory technology by leading researchers worldwide have contributed to the ubiquitous low-cost, high-capacity memory modules in diverse electronic products.
  • The invention of deep UV excimer laser photolithography
    Photolithography
    Photolithography is a process used in microfabrication to selectively remove parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate. It uses light to transfer a geometric pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitive chemical "photoresist", or simply "resist," on the substrate...

     by K. Jain at I.B.M. in 1982, that has enabled the smallest features in ICs to shrink from 500 nanometers in 1990 to as low as 32 nanometers in 2011. With the phenomenal advances made in excimer laser photolithography
    Photolithography
    Photolithography is a process used in microfabrication to selectively remove parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate. It uses light to transfer a geometric pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitive chemical "photoresist", or simply "resist," on the substrate...

     tools by numerous researchers and companies, this trend is expected to continue into this decade for even denser chips, with minimum features reaching below 10 nanometers. From an even broader scientific perspective, since the invention of the laser in 1960, the development of excimer laser lithography has been highlighted as one of the major milestones in the 50-year history of the laser.


Computer industry technology "roadmaps" predict that Moore's law will continue for several chip generations. Depending on and after the doubling time used in the calculations, this could mean up to a hundredfold increase in transistor count per chip within a decade. The semiconductor industry technology roadmap uses a three-year doubling time for microprocessor
Microprocessor
A microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit on a single integrated circuit, or at most a few integrated circuits. It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and...

s, leading to a tenfold increase in the next decade. Intel was reported in 2005 as stating that the downsizing of silicon
Silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

 chips with good economics can continue during the next decade,
and in 2008 as predicting the trend through 2029.

Some of the new directions in research that may allow Moore's law to continue are:
  • Researchers from IBM
    IBM
    International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

     and Georgia Tech
    Georgia Institute of Technology
    The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States...

     created a new speed record when they ran a silicon/germanium
    Germanium
    Germanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors tin and silicon. The isolated element is a semiconductor, with an appearance most similar to elemental silicon....

     helium
    Helium
    Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

     supercooled transistor at 500 gigahertz (GHz). The transistor operated above 500 GHz at 4.5 K
    Kelvin
    The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

     (−451 °F/−268.65 °C) and simulations showed that it could likely run at 1 THz (1,000 GHz). However, this trial only tested a single transistor.

  • As an example of the impact of deep-ultraviolet excimer laser photolithography
    Photolithography
    Photolithography is a process used in microfabrication to selectively remove parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate. It uses light to transfer a geometric pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitive chemical "photoresist", or simply "resist," on the substrate...

    , in continuing the advances in semiconductor chip fabrication, IBM
    IBM
    International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

     researchers announced in early 2006 that they had developed a technique to print circuitry only 29.9 nm wide using 193 nm ArF excimer laser lithography. IBM claims that this technique may allow chipmakers to use then-current methods for seven more years while continuing to achieve results forecast by Moore's law. New methods that can achieve smaller circuits are expected to be substantially more expensive.
  • In April 2008, researchers at HP Labs announced the creation of a working memristor
    Memristor
    Memristor is a passive two-terminal electrical component envisioned by Leon Chua as a fundamental non-linear circuit element relating charge and magnetic flux linkage...

    : a fourth basic passive circuit element whose existence had previously only been theorized. The memristor's unique properties allow for the creation of smaller and better-performing electronic devices.

  • In February 2010, Researchers at the Tyndall National Institute
    Tyndall National Institute
    Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland named for John Tyndall, scientist, is one of Europe's leading research centres, specialising in ICT hardware research, commercialisation of technology and the education of next generation researchers...

     in Cork, Ireland announced a breakthrough in transistors with the design and fabrication of the world's first junctionless transistor. The research led by Professor Jean-Pierre Colinge was published in Nature Nanotechnology and describes a control gate around a silicon nanowire that can tighten around the wire to the point of closing down the passage of electrons without the use of junctions or doping. The researchers claim that the new junctionless transistors can be produced at 10-nanometer scale using existing fabrication techniques.

  • In April 2011, a research team at the University of Pittsburgh announced the development of a single-electron transistor 1.5 nanometers in diameter made out of oxide based materials. According to the researchers, three "wires" converge on a central "island" which can house one or two electrons. Electrons tunnel from one wire to another through the island. Conditions on the third wire results in distinct conductive properties including the ability of the transistor to act as a solid state memory.

Ultimate limits of the law


On 13 April 2005, Gordon Moore
Gordon Moore
Gordon Earle Moore is the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation and the author of Moore's Law .-Life and career:...

 stated in an interview that the law cannot be sustained indefinitely: "It can't continue forever. The nature of exponentials is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens." He also noted that transistor
Transistor
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current...

s would eventually reach the limits of miniaturization at atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

ic levels:
In January 1995, the Digital
Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation was a major American company in the computer industry and a leading vendor of computer systems, software and peripherals from the 1960s to the 1990s...

 Alpha 21164
Alpha 21164
The Alpha 21164, also known by its code name, EV5, is a microprocessor developed and fabricated by Digital Equipment Corporation that implemented the Alpha instruction set architecture . It was introduced in January 1995, succeeding the Alpha 21064A as Digital's flagship microprocessor...

 microprocessor had 9.3 million transistors. This 64-bit processor was a technological spearhead at the time, even if the circuit's market share remained average. Six years later, a state of the art microprocessor contained more than 40 million transistors. It is theorised that with further miniaturisation, by 2015 these processors should contain more than 15 billion transistors, and by 2020 will be in molecular scale production, where each molecule can be individually positioned.

In 2003 Intel predicted the end would come between 2013 and 2018 with 16 nanometer manufacturing processes and 5 nanometer gates, due to quantum tunnelling
Quantum tunnelling
Quantum tunnelling refers to the quantum mechanical phenomenon where a particle tunnels through a barrier that it classically could not surmount. This plays an essential role in several physical phenomena, such as the nuclear fusion that occurs in main sequence stars like the sun, and has important...

, although others suggested chips could just get bigger, or become layered. In 2008 it was noted that for the last 30 years it has been predicted that Moore's law would last at least another decade.

Some see the limits of the law as being far in the distant future. Lawrence Krauss and Glenn D. Starkman announced an ultimate limit of around 600 years in their paper, based on rigorous estimation of total information-processing capacity of any system in the Universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

.

One could also limit the theoretical performance of a rather practical "ultimate laptop" with a mass of one kilogram and a volume of one litre. This is done by considering the speed of light
Speed of light
The speed of light in vacuum, usually denoted by c, is a physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is 299,792,458 metres per second, a figure that is exact since the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time...

, the quantum scale, the gravitational constant
Gravitational constant
The gravitational constant, denoted G, is an empirical physical constant involved in the calculation of the gravitational attraction between objects with mass. It appears in Newton's law of universal gravitation and in Einstein's theory of general relativity. It is also known as the universal...

 and the Boltzmann constant.

Then again, the law has often met obstacles that first appeared insurmountable but were indeed surmounted before long. In that sense, Moore says he now sees his law as more beautiful than he had realized: "Moore's law is a violation of Murphy's law
Murphy's law
Murphy's law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". - History :The perceived perversity of the universe has long been a subject of comment, and precursors to the modern version of Murphy's law are not hard to find. Recent significant...

. Everything gets better and better."

Futurists and Moore's law



Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil, Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling
Michael Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author, best known for his novels and his work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which helped define the cyberpunk genre.-Writings:...

, and Vernor Vinge
Vernor Vinge
Vernor Steffen Vinge is a retired San Diego State University Professor of Mathematics, computer scientist, and science fiction author. He is best known for his Hugo Award-winning novels and novellas A Fire Upon the Deep , A Deepness in the Sky , Rainbows End , Fast Times at Fairmont High ...

 believe that the exponential improvement described by Moore's law will ultimately lead to a technological singularity
Technological singularity
Technological singularity refers to the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such an intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as...

: a period where progress in technology occurs almost instantly.

Although Kurzweil agrees that by 2019 the current strategy of ever-finer photolithography
Photolithography
Photolithography is a process used in microfabrication to selectively remove parts of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate. It uses light to transfer a geometric pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitive chemical "photoresist", or simply "resist," on the substrate...

 will have run its course, he speculates that this does not mean the end of Moore's law:
Kurzweil speculates that it is likely that some new type of technology (e.g. optical, quantum computer
Quantum computer
A quantum computer is a device for computation that makes direct use of quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. Quantum computers are different from traditional computers based on transistors...

s, DNA computing
DNA computing
DNA computing is a form of computing which uses DNA, biochemistry and molecular biology, instead of the traditional silicon-based computer technologies. DNA computing, or, more generally, biomolecular computing, is a fast developing interdisciplinary area...

) will replace current integrated-circuit technology, and that Moore's Law will hold true long after 2020.
He believes that the exponential growth
Exponential growth
Exponential growth occurs when the growth rate of a mathematical function is proportional to the function's current value...

 of Moore's law will continue beyond the use of integrated circuits into technologies that will lead to the technological singularity
Technological singularity
Technological singularity refers to the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such an intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as...

. The Law of Accelerating Returns described by Ray Kurzweil has in many ways altered the public's perception of Moore's Law. It is a common (but mistaken) belief that Moore's Law makes predictions regarding all forms of technology, when it has only actually been demonstrated clearly for semiconductor
Semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

 circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

s. However many people including Richard Dawkins have observed that Moore's law will apply – at least by inference – to any problem that can be attacked by digital computers and is in its essence also a digital problem. Therefore, because of the digital coding of DNA, progress in genetics may also advance at a Moore's law rate. Many futurists still use the term "Moore's law" in this broader sense to describe ideas like those put forth by Kurzweil but do not fully understand the difference between linear problems and digital problems.

Moore himself, who never intended his eponymous law to be interpreted so broadly, has quipped:
Martin Ford in The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, argues that the continuation of Moore's Law will ultimately result in most routine jobs in the economy being automated via technologies such as robotics and specialized artificial intelligence and that this will cause significant unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

, as well as a drastic decline in consumer demand and confidence, possibly precipitating a major economic crisis.

Michael S. Malone
Michael S. Malone
Michael Shawn Malone is an American author, columnist, editor, investor, business-man, television producer, and has been the host of several shows on PBS...

 wrote of a Moore's War in the apparent success of Shock and awe in the early days of the Iraq War.
Michio Kaku
Michio Kaku
is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, the co-founder of string field theory, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science...

, an American scientist and physicist, predicted in 2003 that "Moore’s Law will probably collapse in 20 years"

The ensuing speed of technological change


Technological change
Technological change
Technological change is a term that is used to describe the overall process of invention, innovation and diffusion of technology or processes. The term is synonymous with technological development, technological achievement, and technological progress...

 is a combination of more and of better technology. A recent study in Science (journal)
Science (journal)
Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is one of the world's top scientific journals....

 shows that the peak of the rate of change of the world's capacity to compute information was in the year 1998, when the world's technological capacity to compute information on general-purpose computers grew at 88% per year.

Transistor count versus computing performance


The exponential processor transistor growth predicted by Moore does not always translate into exponentially greater practical CPU performance. Let us consider the case of a single-threaded system. According to Moore's law, transistor dimensions are scaled by 30% (0.7x) every technology generation, thus reducing their area by 50%. This reduces the delay (0.7x) and therefore increases operating frequency by about 40% (1.4x). Finally, to keep electric field constant, voltage is reduced by 30%, reducing energy by 65% and power (at 1.4x frequency) by 50%, since active power = CV2f. Therefore, in every technology generation transistor density doubles, circuit becomes 40% faster, while power consumption (with twice the number of transistors) stays the same.

Another source of improved performance is due to microarchitecture techniques exploiting the growth of available transistor count. These increases are empirically described by Pollack's rule
Pollack's Rule
Pollack's Rule states that microprocessor "performance increase due to microarchitecture advances is roughly proportional to [the] square root of [the] increase in complexity". This contrasts with power consumption increase, which is roughly linearly proportional to the increase in complexity...

 which states that performance increases due to microarchitecture techniques are square root of of the number of transistors or the area of a processor.

In multi-core
Multi-core (computing)
A multi-core processor is a single computing component with two or more independent actual processors , which are the units that read and execute program instructions...

 CPUs
Central processing unit
The central processing unit is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. The CPU plays a role somewhat analogous to the brain in the computer. The term has been in...

, the higher transistor density
Transistor count
The transistor count of a device is the number of transistors in the device.Transistor count is the most common measure of integrated circuit complexity. According to Moore's Law, the transistor count of the integrated circuits doubles every two years...

 does not greatly increase speed on many consumer applications that are not parallelized. There are cases where a roughly 45% increase in processor transistors have translated to roughly 10–20% increase in processing power. Viewed even more broadly, the speed of a system is often limited by factors other than processor speed, such as internal bandwidth and storage speed, and one can judge a system's overall performance based on factors other than speed, like cost efficiency or electrical efficiency.

Importance of non-CPU bottlenecks


As CPU speeds and memory capacities have increased, other aspects of performance like memory and disk access speeds have failed to keep up. As a result, those access latencies are more and more often a bottleneck in system performance, and high-performance hardware and software have to be designed to reduce their impact.

In processor design, out-of-order execution
Out-of-order execution
In computer engineering, out-of-order execution is a paradigm used in most high-performance microprocessors to make use of instruction cycles that would otherwise be wasted by a certain type of costly delay...

 and on-chip caching
CPU cache
A CPU cache is a cache used by the central processing unit of a computer to reduce the average time to access memory. The cache is a smaller, faster memory which stores copies of the data from the most frequently used main memory locations...

 and prefetching
Prefetching
Prefetching may refer to:* Instruction prefetch, in computer architecture, a microprocessor speedup technique* Prefetch input queue , in computer architecture, pre-loading machine code from memory...

 reduce the impact of memory latency at the cost of using more transistors and increasing processor complexity. In software, operating systems and databases have their own finely tuned caching
Cache
In computer engineering, a cache is a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere...

 and prefetching
Prefetching
Prefetching may refer to:* Instruction prefetch, in computer architecture, a microprocessor speedup technique* Prefetch input queue , in computer architecture, pre-loading machine code from memory...

 systems to minimize the number of disk seeks, including systems like ReadyBoost
ReadyBoost
ReadyBoost is a disk cache component of Microsoft Windows, first introduced with Microsoft's Windows Vista in 2006 and bundled with Windows 7 in 2009...

 that use low-latency flash memory
Flash memory
Flash memory is a non-volatile computer storage chip that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. It was developed from EEPROM and must be erased in fairly large blocks before these can be rewritten with new data...

. Some databases can compress indexes and data, reducing the amount of data read from disk at the cost of using CPU time for compression and decompression.
The increasing relative cost of disk seeks also makes the high access speeds provided by solid-state disks more attractive for some applications.

Parallelism and Moore's law


Parallel computation has recently become necessary to take full advantage of the gains allowed by Moore's law. For years, processor makers consistently delivered increases in clock rate
Clock rate
The clock rate typically refers to the frequency that a CPU is running at.For example, a crystal oscillator frequency reference typically is synonymous with a fixed sinusoidal waveform, a clock rate is that frequency reference translated by electronic circuitry into a corresponding square wave...

s and instruction-level parallelism, so that single-threaded code executed faster on newer processors with no modification. Now, to manage CPU power dissipation
CPU power dissipation
Central processing unit power dissipation or CPU power dissipation is the process in which central processing units consume electrical energy, and dissipate this energy both by the action of the switching devices contained in the CPU and by the energy lost in the form of heat due to the impedance...

, processor makers favor multi-core chip designs, and software has to be written in a multi-threaded or multi-process manner to take full advantage of the hardware. Many multi-threaded development paradigms introduce overhead, and will not see a linear increase in speed vs number of processors. This is particularly true while accessing shared or dependent resources, due to lock
Lock (computer science)
In computer science, a lock is a synchronization mechanism for enforcing limits on access to a resource in an environment where there are many threads of execution. Locks are one way of enforcing concurrency control policies.-Types:...

 contention. This effect becomes more noticeable as the number of processors increases. Recently, IBM has been exploring ways to distribute computing power more efficiently by mimicking the distributional properties of the human brain.

Obsolescence


A negative implication of Moore's Law is obsolescence
Obsolescence
Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order. Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that is superior in one or more aspects. Obsolete refers to something...

, that is, as technologies continue to rapidly "improve", these improvements can be significant enough to rapidly render predecessor technologies obsolete. In situations in which security and survivability of hardware and/or data are paramount, or in which resources are limited, rapid obsolescence can pose obstacles to smooth or continued operations.

See also


  • Accelerating change
    Accelerating change
    In futures studies and the history of technology, accelerating change is a perceived increase in the rate of technological progress throughout history, which may suggest faster and more profound change in the future...

  • Amdahl's law
    Amdahl's law
    Amdahl's law, also known as Amdahl's argument, is named after computer architect Gene Amdahl, and is used to find the maximum expected improvement to an overall system when only part of the system is improved...

  • Bekenstein bound
    Bekenstein bound
    In physics, the Bekenstein bound is an upper limit on the entropy S, or information I, that can be contained within a given finite region of space which has a finite amount of energy—or conversely, the maximum amount of information required to perfectly describe a given physical system down to the...

  • Bell's law
    Bell's Law of Computer Classes
    Bell's Law of Computer Classes formulated by Gordon Bell in 1972 describes how computer classes form, evolve and may eventually die out. New classes create new applications resulting in new markets and new industries. Bell considers the law to be partially a corollary to Moore's Law which states...

  • Metcalfe's law
    Metcalfe's law
    Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected usersof the system...

  • Empirical relationship
    Empirical relationship
    In science, an empirical relationship is one based solely on observation rather than theory. An empirical relationship requires only confirmatory data irrespective of theoretical basis. Sometimes theoretical explanations for what were initially empirical relationships are found, in which case the...

  • Experience curve effects
    Experience curve effects
    Models of the learning curve effect and the closely related experience curve effect express the relationship between equations for experience and efficiency or between efficiency gains and investment in the effort....

  • Exponential growth
    Exponential growth
    Exponential growth occurs when the growth rate of a mathematical function is proportional to the function's current value...

  • Grosch's law
    Grosch's law
    Grosch's law is the following observation about computer performance made by Herb Grosch in 1965:There is a fundamental rule, which I modestly call Grosch's law, giving added economy only as the square root of the increase in speed -- that is, to do a calculation 10 times as cheaply you must do it...

  • Haitz's Law
    Haitz's Law
    Haitz's Law is an observation/prediction about the steady improvement over the years of light-emitting diodes – LEDs.It states that every decade, the cost per lumen falls by a factor of 10, the amount of light generated per LED package increases by a factor of 20, for a given wavelength of light...

  • History of computing hardware (1960s–present)
  • Hofstadter's law
    Hofstadter's law
    Hofstadter's law is a self-referencing time-related adage, coined by Douglas Hofstadter and named after himself.Hofstadter's Law was a part of Douglas Hofstadter's 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. The law is a statement regarding the difficulty of accurately estimating the...

  • Kryder's law
  • Klaiber's law
    Klaiber's Law
    Simply stated, Klaiber's law proposes that "the silicon wafer size will dictate the largest diameter of ultrapure water supply piping needed within a semiconductor wafer factory."...

  • Koomey's law
    Koomey's law
    Koomey’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware. The number of computations per joule of energy dissipated has been doubling approximately every 1.57 years. This trend has been remarkably stable since the 1950s and has actually been somewhat faster than Moore’s law...

  • List of eponymous laws
  • Logistic growth
  • Microprocessor chronology
    Microprocessor Chronology
    -1970s:In the 1970s the microprocessors are mostly 8-bit and manufactured with the NMOS technology.-1980s:In the 1980s the microprocessors are 16-bit and 32-bit, mostly manufactured with the CMOS technology.-1990s:...

  • Nielsen's law
  • Quantum computing
  • Rock's law
    Rock's law
    Rock's law or Moore's Second Law, named for Arthur Rock, says that the cost of a semiconductor chip fabrication plant doubles every four years...

  • Second half of the chessboard
  • Semiconductor
    Semiconductor
    A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

  • Wirth's law
    Wirth's law
    Wirth's law is a computing adage made popular by Niklaus Wirth in 1995:Wirth attributed the saying to Martin Reiser, who, in the preface to his book on the Oberon System, wrote: The hope is that the progress in hardware will cure all software ills...



Further reading

  • Understanding Moore's Law: Four Decades of Innovation. Edited by David C. Brock. Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Press, 2006. ISBN 0941901416. .

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