When Gordon Moore made an observation about the exponential growth of computer processing power back in 1975, the circuitry on the chips reduced immensely while the processing power and speed shot up exponentially.
Gordon’s prediction that the number of transistors in a computer’s integrated circuit doubles every two years has led to considerable advancements in electronics ranging from the rapid increase in memory capacity and pixelation size in digital cameras. The smaller the size of transistors leads to increased processing power of the chip as more transistors can be attached to the same size chip.
The prediction has proved to be accurate, and the semiconductor industry has integrated this law in their long-term goals and strategies.
Revolution in Computer Devices
From the 1970s to 2009, the most common computer device was PCs which ran on the window XP. The marked shift and revolution in computer devices was made in 2009 when smartphones were launched.
The technological changes which has led to the combination of computer functionalities, such as digital camera capabilities, telephony, and internet access on a single computer device has had high reception, which has rendered the typical computer devices and digital camera somewhat obsolete.
There has been high consumer demand for computer devices that have multiple functionalities, long-battery life and are lightweight. This demand has rendered the typical personal computers somewhat obsolete, as more and more consumers prefer tablet computers and smartphones.
This revolution has led to the critical change and focus on the fundamentals of making a chip. Previously, semiconductor manufacturing companies focused on speed and processing power of the PC chips, and the company which had the highest processing power was the clear winner.
Nowadays, however, there has been a clear shift from the typical preference for speed to more emphasis on the quality of the chip’s multi-functionality and battery consumption. Consumers have continuously purchased computer devices with high multi-functionality, user experience, and optimal battery life chips.
The future of Moore’s Law
In 2015, Intel Company, co-founded by Gordon Moore, has come out to admit that it would be a challenge to make even smaller transistors, due to the extreme difficulty to control electrons flowing through the transistors. Currently, Intel has managed to create transistors which are 14nm wide, within a period of about 2 ½ years. Brain Krzanich, Intel’s CEO said, “The last two technology transitions has signalled that our cadence today is closer to 2 ½ years than just two years” (Clark, 2015).
IBM has allayed the recent revision, with its 7nm transistor processors that it claims will be four times more powerful with up to 20bn transistors fitted on a single chip. Unlike Intel which rely solely on pure Silicon, IBM uses the silicon-germanium material to make the chips (Gibbs, 2015).
Moore’s observation has impacted greatly on technological advancement. The future, however, lies not on the rigidity of the law, but simply recognizing that Gordon’s observation made a critical contribution to the semiconductor industry. Whether it will remain relevant for another decade or so is not as important as ensuring the quality of the chips being produced is not compromised.