Moore’s Law; the clock that sets the pace of computing
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Moore’s Law; Find out how it sets the pace in computing
In 1965, when Gordon E. Moore wrote the article that would bring about Moore’s Law, he probably could not imagine either its impact or that he was establishing one of the most well-known and quoted parameters in the history of technology.
At that time, the young Moore was the director of Fairchild Semiconductor Labs, and there were still three years to go before he and his colleague Robert Noyce founded Intel. While the microelectronics industry was still in its early stages, many people questioned the capacity and business applications of the industry. However, Moore was able to detect a trend that heralded a promising future for the industry, and was enthusiastic about its possibilities, so he wrote it down in his article.
What is Moore’s Law?
The formulation of Moore’s Law is very simple: the number of transistors contained in a microprocessor is doubled every 2 years or so.
Although Moore originally set the doubling at an annual period, ten years later he reformulated his prediction and extended it to the period he considered most realistic.
But why has a technical prediction, which is not really a physical law but an observation based on experience, achieved such notoriety?
We can probably explain this phenomenon on the basis of two observations:
- Moore’s Law has proved to be surprisingly effective, so that, to this day, it has been strictly followed, to the point that it has been setting the calendar of the world’s leading microprocessor manufacturers (including Intel itself).
- Moore’s Law has the ability to explain in a simple way the power of computing. If we narrow it down to a formulation that is perhaps inaccurate but easy for the general public to understand, we can say that Moore’s Law predicts that the power and speed of computers will double every 24 months. And that entails enormous implications.
What does Moore’s Law involve?
As a result of Moore’s Law, an enormous number of predictions have been made which, have tried for years to predict the future of computing.
For example, a business prediction focused on Moore’s Law which states that, since the performance of microprocessors doubles every two years, their price is reduced by the same proportion.
Others go further and link Moore’s Law with the development of Artificial Intelligence. Thus, by estimating the continuity of this Law and the computing power of a human brain, predictions such as Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Celerated Yields estimate that the parity between the processing speed of computers and that of the human brain will be reached around 2019.
How long will Moore’s Law remain in force?
This is an issue that has been strongly debated in recent years. Since this is an empirical observation and not a physical law, there is no guarantee of Moore’s Law being permanently enforced.
Gordon Moore himself announced its end in 2007, stating that it would not last for another 10 or 15 years, which would bring its end fairly close. In fact, some voices claim that it is already being missed at present, following recent delays in the industry.
The very laws of physics make it more and more difficult for the engineers who are responsible for ensuring that the Law continues to be complied with. Thus, the physical limits in terms of material handling are getting closer and closer (dimensions are already being handled in the 10 nanometer range) and offer increasing difficulties in terms of material overheating, which is a challenge that the industry itself is struggling to overcome.
How do we keep Moore’s Law alive?
As we have already mentioned, it is not a matter of Moore’s Law being a principle of physics that we must strictly comply with, but it has become a reference for the microprocessor industry to comply with because, at its fingertips, multiple technologies are involved.
Thus, mobile technology, Artificial Intelligence, autonomous vehicles and any other technology involving information technology expect the Moore Law to continue to be enforced.
To achieve this, multiple ideas have been developed over the last few years. From the neuro-morphic, three-dimensional chips inspired by the structure of the human brain, to the promising quantum computers, of enormous complexity that promise to exponentially increase the power of computers in the near future, without ignoring proposals for the use in the manufacture of microprocessors of new materials with properties ” better ” than those of silicon, such as carbon nanotubes or graphene.
Undoubtedly, Moore’s Law has been an inspiration and a model for many engineers for decades, and has served to propel the industry with an energy that few could have foreseen in the far-off 1965.
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