Tuesday 3 May 2016

Moore's Law and the Future of Solid-State Electronics


Moore’s Law – Driving Force of Social & Technological Change

Moore’s Law is said to be the observation which the number of transistors in a thick integrated circuit tends to double almost every two years. Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor has been named after the observation, whose 1965 paper had described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit. He had projected this rate of growth which would continue for another decade.

He had revised the forecast to doubling every two years, in 1975, looking forward to the next decade.His prediction seems to be accurate for many decades and the law was utilised in the semiconductor industry for guiding long-term planning as well as to set targets for research and development. Innovations in digital electronics were strongly connected to Moore’s law – memory capacity, quality-adjusted microprocessor prices, sensor as well as the number and size of pixels in digital camera.

Digital electronics had made their contribution to world economic growth towards the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Moore’s law tends to describe a driving force of social and technological change, economic growth and productivity. Semiconductor electronics, for 50 years had shaped a reduction in cost per transistor of over 30% a year while doubling the transistor for a chip every two years.

Special Case of Learning Curve

Though, at that time, Moore did not realize that the Moore’s Law is a special case of the learning curve, which has been popular for more than one hundred years and the good news is that it should continue at least in the future. Consider the learning curve as sitting one rung above Moore’s Law in the classification of theories. The learning curve does not seem to care how we tend to achieve the reduction in cost per switch merely that we certainly do since we always have.

 As we tend to attain lower cost, new application as well as computer architecture seems to emerge, quickening the growth in unit volume and reducing further the cost per switch while growing the entire market for semiconductors. Unfavourably, the learning curve does not care if the switch is a logic transistor or a memory bit and both of them seem to carry the information intelligently.

Flash Memories Substituting Rotating Media

Percentage of transistors used for memory against logic functions on most of the advanced integrated circuits has increased since 1995. Though the memory can be inserted on the logic chip, currently referred to as the system-on-a-chip, or SoC, the memory also seems to reside in dedicated memory chips.Flash memories that are now substituting rotating media for computer storage are reducing their price per bit at a much faster rate than the price per gate of logic.

In the meanwhile, new memory architectures like 3D XPoint announced by Intel and Micron assure another order of magnitude or more with regards to cost reduction together with improvement in performance. Moore’s Law would become immaterial to the semiconductor industry but the progress of reducing the cost per bit and cost per switch will tend to continue indefinitely, due to the learning curve. Together with it, the number of new applications for electronic will continue to be restricted only by the creativity of those who will hunt for solutions to new problems.

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