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The End of Moore's Law?

Discussion in 'Computer & Technology' started by slowmo, May 4, 2014.

  1. slowmo

    slowmo Well-Known Member

    The End of Moore's Law?

    Moore's law is named after Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation. He predicted that approximately every two years, the number of transistors on ICs (Integrated Circuits) would double. He observed this in 1965 and it's held pretty consistent.

    As a result, this moving forward of technology has created products for the consumer never before thought possible. Things like the home computer, the electronic adding machine, portable radios, portable phones, tablets, the list seems endless in what it provides as well as what new products come out.

    This abundance of new technology pushing new products has changed our social and business lives. You can sent emails without a stamp, across the state or the globe and have near instantaneous arrival.

    What was originally an observation became an industry target over time. Packing ever more transistors into ever smaller spaces.

    There is a second law attributed to Moore that is rarely heard. That as the cost of computer power goes down for the consumer, the costs for research, development, and production increases exponentially over time. This is driven by lots of factors but it too holds fairly true. As you get smaller, physically there becomes more problems that develop. What works in the real world at normal sizes doesn't always hold true for the micro-miniature. Computer makers are now working at nanometer sized distances. Where in the normal world you would put an insulator on a wire and then lay it beside another doesn't hold up at nano-scale.

    You have a problem with electron flow. When you reduce all this down, there is no room for wires with insulators. It's done another way. But there is a tendency for electrons to bleed over when they are close. It's too small to coat the wires in an insulator, so electric polarities are separated by substrate layers. Then you start seeing that the material you are using for passing electrons doesn't work as well at miniature scale, di-electrics don't carry the same properties in miniature scale as they do in the real world scale. In short, physics of materials start getting in the way because they don't behave the same way in the micro-reduced world. So new materials have to be developed to do the task that an old materials once did, hence driving some of the costs. In the same way, methods to handle the ever smaller have to change too.

    This constant battling to get it to preform in the submicroscopic world is reaching a point we may not be able to continue and it is guessed that at 7 to 5 nano-meters is probably the last down scale that will be done. Not because we probably can't solve the physics but because the costs to do so may never pay off.

    The new Globalfoundries chip plant that makes chips, is nearly completed in upstate New York at a cost of $6 billion for the plant and an additional cost of $8 billion for the R&D facility added to it. It is expected to be finished late this year.

    Each new shrinkage in size pretty much requires a new plant capable of handling the reduction as well as the new technology and materials needed to produce the new chip. Each time the expenses jump with a major cost increases. The limit may not be physical but rather just when to these corporations say this is simply too much money to dump in and not enough payback to justify the next latest greatest.

    We are at 22 nanometers now. 5 to 7 seems a long way off looking at the money being sunk into making ever smaller chips. The barrier is in sight and we approach it.


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