Fuchs quoted in The Telegraph on Moore's Law
The global chip drought has been compared to the oil shock of the late 1970s, sending inflation up and dragging on economic growth at the worst possible time - just as the world was trying to recover from pandemic shutdowns.
But the shortage is not the only challenge facing the semiconductor industry, whose progress has become increasingly central to billions of consumer and industrial devices. The performance of those chips - the brains of electronic devices - are no longer improving at the same reliable rate that they have for decades. This slowdown points to the end of what has for decades been an immutable constant in computing: Moore’s Law.
In 1965, Intel founder Gordon Moore observed the number of silicon transistors one could fit onto a microchip tended to double every two years, due to increasingly complex manufacturing processes.
Professor Erica Fuchs says Moore’s Law and the inventions that resulted from it have been responsible for up to half of economic growth in the US and worldwide. Harvard professor David Jorgensen puts it at up to 70%. That means its slowdown, or eventual end, could have drastic consequences for GDP growth.
For most of Moore’s Law’s life, the cost per transistor declined as manufacturing became more efficient. But for the last few years costs have risen, meaning that there may come a point where performance improvements are not worth the price of them.
Manufacturers have laid out plans to stave off the end of Moore’s Law. Samsung, IBM and Intel have all announced plans to increase processing power by a novel process of “stacking” transistors, but according to experts, this is only likely to keep Moore’s Law on life support, rather than save it.
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