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Moore'S Law and Technologies to Extend It

Moore's Law_032923A
[Wikipedia: Moore's Law: A semi-log plot of transistor counts for microprocessors against dates of introduction, nearly doubling every two years (1970-2020).]


- Overview

Moore's Law states that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years. As of 2022, advancements that may hold the key to the persistence or even acceleration of Moore's Law include:

  • Three-dimensional integrated circuit (3DIC)
  • Heterogenous integration
  • “Chip stacking”
  • Quantum-enabled semiconductors

Other technologies that can extend Moore's Law include:

  • Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography
  • Vacuum tubes
  • Graphene
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Stanene and 2D friends

To continue Moore's Law, Intel requires the following:

  • Overcoming the exponential growth in the power consumption requirements of current CMOS-based computing
  • Scaling ultra-low power solutions that use quantum effects in materials (called quantum materials) at ambient room temperatures

Moore's Law is reaching its limits. Transistors are approaching the size of atoms, which is a fundamental barrier. However, it's expected that we'll have another 10 to 20 years before we reach a fundamental limit.


- Moore's Law

Moore's Law states that as the number of transistors on a silicon chip doubles approximately every two years, the performance and functionality of computers will continue to increase, while the price of computers will decrease. This is the prediction made by American engineer Gordon Moore in 1965. 

The law is a description of trends in semiconductor production. This is not a natural process, but one driven by technological progress that requires constant innovation to continue. The law is based on the observation that electronics have grown exponentially over time, with no evidence of technological stagnation.


- Moore's Law Predictions

Moore's Law is one of the best technology predictions of the past 50 years. Gordon E. Moore predicted that the number of components on integrated circuits (ICs) would triple every year. His hypothesis became known as Moore's Law and was confirmed in 1975. The increase in chip density is primarily attributable to four main factors: die size, line size, technical brilliance, and technological innovation.

According to Moore, one of the main attractions of integrated electronics is its low cost. This benefit increases as technology advances; a single semiconductor substrate can yield more complex circuit functions. The cost per component in a simple circuit is almost inversely proportional to the number of components. However, the cost per component tends to go up when more components are added, and the lower yields make up for the added complexity. Therefore, at any given time in technology development, costs are minimal. For example, the estimated manufacturing cost per component in 1970 was only one-tenth of what it was in 1965.

In Moore's own words, at first, it was just an observation, trying to predict that this would be a way to make electronics cheaper. However, these industries are developing at a constant rate of improvement, with various technology nodes emerging periodically to keep pace. So all business players recognize that if they don't move so fast, they will fall behind in technology, driving growth farther and faster.


Stanford University_121322B
[Stanford University]

 - 12 Technologies that Could Extend Moore's Law

 Here are 12 materials or technologies that could keep our hardware performance improving for years to come. 

  • Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Lithography: Current photolithography has reached its limits. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography uses smaller light waves, allowing for higher density chips. 
  • Vacuum tubes: Some researchers are considering reviving the long-obsolete vacuum tube technology. The nanofabrication group at Caltech is developing micropipes to avoid the unpredictable behavior of silicon once it starts reaching low nanometer measurements. 
  • Graphene: The most widely known super material, graphene is a two-dimensional material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms. It is harder than steel, harder than diamond, flexible and transparent, and has excellent electrical conductivity.  
  • Carbon nanotubes: Graphene, but rolled up like newspaper, making it very strong and conductive. Encounters the same difficulties as graphene in terms of mass production.  
  • Stanene and 2D friends: Graphene was the first 2D material, but many more have been discovered. Stanene, Silicene, Germanene, White Graphene, Phosphorene, Molybdenum Disulfide, and Tin Monoxide all have their own unique "supermaterial" qualities.  
  • Diamond: Replacing silicon with synthetic diamond-based transistors, capacitors, and resistors has the potential to eliminate many overheating issues, enabling better performance and removing heat sinks from devices.  
  • Quantum computing: It is unlikely to replace chips in mobile phones forever, but it may have important applications in high-performance computing scenarios. It's all very complicated, but swapping binary bits that are 1 or 0 for qubits that are all 1 or 0 could dramatically increase our current computing power and could make AI smarter, encryption better, and predictive analytics more precise. 
  • Perovskite: A material first discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1839, perovskite allows electronic devices to work in the terahertz band. Using light instead of electricity to move data can increase computing and internet speeds by up to 1,000 times. 
  • Electronic blood: What if you could cool electronics directly with liquid? IBM's 5D electronic blood aims to do just that.  
  • Neuroelectronics: The brain is very good at learning things in a fast, energy-efficient manner. IBM is working on artificial neurons that can fire and carry electrical impulses in a similar way to our own organic neurons, meaning machines will be able to think like us.  
  • Biocomputers: In addition to mimicking biology, some companies are trying to use biology in machines. Companies such as Microsoft are using artificial DNA for data storage, while researchers are working on writing code into bacteria or using proteins found in the human body in microchips.  
  • Biodegradable microchips: With the e-waste problem growing, electronics that can degrade in a harmless way are promising. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been working on a way to replace harmful materials in semiconductors, such as gallium arsenide, with a thin layer of wood crystals bonded together with epoxy. The resulting electronics can be dissolved in a glass of water and are more drinkable than regular tap water.  



[More to come ...]

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