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Location: Penang, Malaysia

April 25, 2005

Moore's Law

On April 19, 2005, Moore's Law celebrates its 40th birthday. An observation made by Dr. Gordon E. Moore, the R&D Lab director of Fairchild Semiconductor in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch of integrated circuit had doubled every year. Here is the original article where he was given the chore of predicting what would happen in silicon components in the the 35th anniversary edition of the Eletronics Magazine. Before we fast forward, Dr. Moore, together with his colleague, Robert Noyce left Fairchild Semiconductor to co-found Intel in 1968.

In 1975, Dr. Moore revised it downward, saying that the number doubles every 2 years. Some quoted Dr. Moore that he said 18 months, but he is adamant that he never said it. Anyway, the best phrase to use today is "approximately 2 years". The "18 months" could be traced back to the Intel Developer Forum in Fall 1997.

For many years, those so called experts had been predicting the demise of the Moore's Law. Intel has keep on proving to them that they are wrong. If I am not mistaken, it was Albert Einstein who said "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result".

On the other hand, the Moore's Law had become a self-fulfulling prophecy, a predcition that actually causes itself to become true. In my opinion, Dr. Moore prediction sets the pace for the race. This causes the industry focuses their resources toward achieving results per Moore's Law. If everybody is working towards that direction, those who could not keep up with the pace will lose the race.

Dr. Moore was named the Chairman Emeritus of Intel in 1997. He has gone fishing since.

In an article in Embedded.com by Jack Robetson in year 2002, Dr. Moore said that the pace of doubling the number of transistors had slowed down. OK, let's see what is next after 30-nanometer.

Oh yeah, David Clark from Surrey won the USD 10,000 reward posted by Intel on eBay for the original copy of the April 19, 1965 issue of Electronics Magazine. Dr. Moore lent out his copy and lost track of it.

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