SEMICONDUCTOR TECHNOLOGY Moore's Law in 2023: What’s the status quo?
“Moore’s law is dead!” This is a line of thought championed by many prominent individuals in the fields of electrical and power engineering. But it’s quite a controversial one; just as many people believe Moore’s Law is still true today in 2023 as those who believe that it’s dead and no longer valid.
The debate of whether Moore’s Law is “dying” (or already “dead”) has been going on for years. It has been discussed by pretty much everyone. But before we can give an aswer to that, let's first clarify the meaning of Moore's Law.
What is Moore's Law?
Moore's Law stems from the observation of Gordon Moore (1929-2023), co-founder of Intel, made in 1965. At the time, he said that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit had doubled roughly every year and would continue to do so for the next 10 years. In 1975, he revised his observation to say that this would occur every two years indefinitely.
All I was trying to do was get that message across, that by putting more and more stuff on a chip we were going to make all electronics cheaper.
Moore’s observation became the driving force behind the semiconductor technology revolution that led to the proliferation of computers and other electronic devices.
Moore's Law has evolved over time
Moore’s Law is based on empirical observations made by Gordon Moore. The yearly doubling of the number of transistors on a microchip was extrapolated from observed data in 1965.
Over time, the details of Moore’s Law were amended to reflect the true growth of transistor density. First, the doubling interval was increased to two years and then decreased to around 18 months. The exponential nature of Moore’s Law continued and created decades of opportunity for the semiconductor industry and the electronics that use them.
The issue for Moore’s Law is the inherent complexity of semiconductor process technology, and these complexities have been growing. Transistors are now three-dimensional, and the small feature size of today’s advanced process technologies has required multiple exposures to reproduce these features on silicon wafers. This has added extreme complexity to the design process and has “slowed down” Moore’s Law.
Watch this video to see the origin story of Moore's Law with statement by Gordon Moore:
Moore’s Law is dead — wrong, or right?
This slowing down has led many to ask, “Is Moore’s Law dead?”
The simple answer to this is no, Moore’s Law is not dead. While it’s true that chip densities are no longer doubling every two years (thus, Moore’s Law isn’t happening anymore by its strictest definition), Moore’s Law is still delivering exponential improvements, albeit at a slower pace. The trend is very much still here.
Intel's CEO Pat Gelsinger believes that Moore's Law is far from obsolete. As a goal for the next 10 years, he announced in 2021 not only to uphold Moore's Law, but to outpace it. There are many industry veterans who agree with this. Mario Morales, a program vice president at IDC, said he believes Moore’s Law is still relevant in theory in an interview with TechRepublic.
“If you look at what Moore’s Law has enabled, we’re seeing an explosion of more computing across the entire landscape,'” he said. “It used to be computing was centered around mainframes and then it became clients and now edge and endpoints, but they’re getting more intelligent, and now they’re doing AI inferencing, and you need computing to do that. So, Moore’s Law has been able to continue to really push computing to the outer edge.”
While the consensus is that Moore’s Law is slowing down and that it might soon be augmented, it is still driving improvements in processing technology and the amount of progress that follows these improvements.
If Moore's Law were dead, it simply couldn’t do this.
Who is the inventor of Moore's Law?
Gordon Earle Moore - born in San Francisco on January 3, 1929 - founded the company Intel together with his longtime colleague Robert Noyce in July 1968. Moore initially served as executive vice president until 1975, when he became president. In 1979, Moore was named chairman of the board and chief executive officer, posts he held until 1987, when he gave up the CEO position and continued as chairman. In 1997, Moore became chairman emeritus, stepping down in 2006. Together with his wife Betty, he created the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000 which aims to make the world a better place for future generations. On March 24, 2023, Intel and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced that the inventer of Moore's Law is dead. Surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii, the semiconductor pioneer Gordon Moore has passed away at the age of 94.Read more about Gordon Moore