As Intel co-founder’s law slows, a rethinking of the chip is needed

August 10, 2015

Rather than doubling the number of transistors on an integrated circuit every two years — the rate of progress since Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made his famous prediction Moore’s law 50 years ago — the period has stretched out to two and a half years.

That will have a deep effect on technology. It implies the chip industry’s extra computing power, over the next decade, will be only half what it would have been.

Ways of mitigating a slowdown in Moore’s law:

Chip designs optimized for specific computing tasks. Graphical processing units, which break data intensive tasks into separate strands to make processing easier, and field programmable gate arrays — chips that can be reprogrammed for specific purposes — are among main growth markets. Google has been optimizing their data centers’ digital productivity.

IBM has trumpeted research into materials like graphene, as well as power theoretically possible with quantum chips. IBM’s new synapse chip is a processor that emulates the human brain.

Predictions based on the exponential growth of Moore’s law are expansive visions of how technology will change the world. Ray Kurzweil, a futurist who works at Google, has predicted a moment when the intelligence of computers outpaces that of humans, leading to a merger around 2045 of man and machine — a moment he calls the singularity.

on the web | essentials

Intel | Moore’s law and Intel innovation
Intel | 50 years of Moore’s law

Financial Times | Intel chief raises doubts over Moore’s law
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Spectrum | The status of Moore’s law, it’s complicated

Big Think | Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, PhD discusses tweaking Moore’s law and the computers of the post-silicon era.