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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Moore's Law 40 Yrs Old - Still Healthy & Radiant!!

Dean Takahashi as written an excellent brief about Moore's Law at 40 and how this prediction became a challenge that drove the high tech industry. Excerpts with edits and comments:
Forty years ago this month, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made a historic prophecy in a paper titled,"Integrated Circuits " that foretold how a bucolic valley of plum and cherry orchards would be transformed into Silicon Valley. The number of transistors on a computer chip would double every year, observed Moore in a paper published April 19, 1965. A decade later,he revised what had become known as Moore's Law: The number of transistors on a chip would double every two years. The prediction was an elegant statement of how semiconductor chips would become cheaper, faster, smaller and more reliable over time.
The result is a world unimaginable four decades ago: Computers once the size of refrigerators fit in the palm of your hand. A $40 talking Furby toy packs four times the processing power of a 1960s Apollo moon lander. A cell phone that cost $2,000 in 1984 can now be had for a hundred bucks and slips into your pocket. It is why technology has infiltrated the lives of everyday people, from iPods and Xboxes to camera pills that wirelessly transmit photos of patients' digestive tracts. Paul Saffo,offers an analogy to explain the power behind the exponential growth of computing power predicted by Moore. If you gave your child a weekly allowance of one penny, but agreed to double the allowance every week, by the 20th week you would owe your child more than a million pennies.
In 1971 Intel was able to put 2,300 transistors on its first microprocessor. Later this year, Intel will unveil a processor crammed with 1.7 billion transistors."If the automobile industry moved this fast, your car would move at a million miles per hour and it would get 50,000 miles per gallon,'" said Moore, 76, in a recent press conference. But Moore's prediction turned out to be much more than a codification of the exponential speed of technological progress.
In 40 years since moore’s law,the semiconductor business has grown into a behemoth with $213 billion in annual sales that powers the $1 trillion electronics industry. The chip industry has also laid the foundation for advances in many other areas, from the study of genetics to automobile safety, said Dan Hutcheson, president of market researcher VLSI Research. Thanks to this trend, the information-technology industry accounts for a quarter of the growth in the US GDP even though it is only 3 percent of the GDP, according to Dale Jorgenson, an economics professor at Harvard University. The technological advances are key to keeping the economy going, despite the small size of the tech industry.
Moore's Law pumps up the economy as each new generation of ever-more-powerful chips spurs consumers to replace their "old" computers and gadgets with the latest versions. Moore said he can foresee Moore's Law continuing for the next five years, but he can't really see beyond that and can't yet predict when his own law will stop describing advances in chip processing. Intel and all chip makers have armies of researchers trying to find replacements for basic silicon chip manufacturing, which may not be needed until 2020. Amazing - how so may times you read, hear, think and talk about it!!

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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