Samueli: Moore’s Law is Marching On – But Not Forever

Gordon Moore

“Moore’s Law is marching on,”2012 Marconi Fellow Henry Samueli tells Rick Merritt of EE Times. At the 2012 Marconi Symposium, Samueli warned about the inevitable end of Moore’s Law. Not yet, though. “There are two to three more generations left, Broadcom will probably do test chips in 10nm FinFETs next year, and there’s talk about how to get to 7nm, so its highly likely we’ll get there — maybe we’ll even get to 5nm but that’s still not obvious” He believes, “Beyond 5nm is where a lot of skepticism comes into play. The barriers beyond 5nm look pretty tough.” That’s 5 to 10 years of progress in sight.

At the Symposium, he said, “Moore’s law has been an amazing phenomenon for almost 40 years, … It’s almost a perfect exponential. Exponentials can’t continue forever, the dimensions are approaching atomic limits“ Samueli added that those who work in the field know that Moore’s Law, as well as chip size and performance limits, are set to max out.

While the density, power and size of chips will continue going down, Henry thinks the cost will not. “The main thing is the cost curve has flipped upside down. We still get denser, higher performance and lower power chips but unfortunately they are more expensive. This is the first time in the history of the semiconductor business that we make something better and — amazingly enough — it’s actually more expensive. That’s the only downside.”

Gordon Moore was awarded the Marconi Lifetime Achievement award in 2005. I attended the ceremony and discovered Moore was modest and thoughtful.