Moore’s Law to run out

Moore’s Law, one of the guiding principles of the entire IT industry, is running out of time, its author has predicted.

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By  Peter Branton Published  April 24, 2005

Moore’s Law, one of the guiding principles of the entire IT industry, is running out of time, its author has predicted. Speaking on the 40-year anniversary of the writing of his famous law, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore said it has no more than 20 years left to run. In April 1965, Moore wrote an article for Electronics magazine predicting the number of transistors on a chip would double every year and that costs would fall commensurately. Moore later revised the law to say that processor complexity would double every two years. This has been widely reported as meaning that computer power would double every 18 months, which Moore himself has said is not entirely accurate. However, he now reckons that Moore’s Law is facing “a fundamental block” of atomic limits. “Nothing like this can continue forever,” Moore said from Hawaii. “The dimensions are small enough now that we’re approaching the size of atoms and that’s a fundamental block. I think the law has another 10 to 20 years before we reach a fundamental limit,” he added. Even so, that’s a long way short of saying that chip development will stop in the future, Moore added, pointing out that other engineering breakthroughs in the industry will allow engineers to put billions of transistors on chips in future. “There’ll be a host of other innovations that will boost performance,” he claimed. While Moore’s Law has been heralded as driving innovation in the IT industry, its critics have argued that this hasn’t always been of benefit to customers. Arguably, end user organisations have been forced to keep buying ever-more powerful and expensive machines to do the same job, with independent software vendors (ISVs) and developers constantly writing unnecessary additions to their applications. “[Moore’s Law] has been a self-fulfilling prophecy as the industry realises it needs to keep on this path,” Moore acknowledged. He also admitted that software development “does seem to lag behind hardware development.” Even so, the software industry had done a good job over the years, he claimed.

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