Gordon Moore says Moore’s Law will hit "fundamental" barrier in 10 to 15 years

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Gordon Moore says Moore's Law will hit "fundamental" barrier in 10 to 15 years

San Francisco (CA) – Casual conversations with IT industry icons have become more popular recently. Following similar events that, for example involved a moderated discussion with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Intel put the company’s co-founder Gordon Moore on stage today to answer questions from Moira Gunn, host of “Tech Nation” and “BioTech Nation” on National Public Radio, and the audience.


Following the currently ongoing IDF in San Francisco from your desk chair rather than being at location brought an advantage earlier today, as the Livecast audience in front of their PCs was able to submit answers in a casual conversation with one of the brightest minds in the IT industry.

Starting with a variety of questions referring to Moore’s career that eventually led him to leave Fairchild Semiconductor and found Intel in a partnership with Robert Noyce in 1968, the topic quickly came to – you guessed it – the status of Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law, outlined by Gordon Moore in an article published in Electronics magazine on April 19, 1965, states that the number of transistors placed on an integrated circuit doubles every 18 to 24 months.  

Moore stated in 2005 that his “Law” will be coming to an end within 15 years. He has not changed his opinion and reiterated today that an end is in sight, which, in his belief, will be reached within 10 to 15 years. “There is an end to any physical quantity that is growing exponentially,” he said. “It will come to some kind of an end.” He quoted Stephen Hawking by saying that there are fundamental limitations in physics, the speed of limit in terms of speed and the “atomic nature of matter” in terms of the size of structures. “There are some fundamental limits,” he said and added that “we are not far away from that.”

But, of course, Moore could be wrong, much like he was on the size of wafers: “I never believed wafers could get that big [as the 300 mm wafers are today],” he told Gunn. Moore also noted that, as long as he could remember, Moore’s Law was always believed to be coming to an end within “two or three generations out” from the current manufacturing process. “And we always found a way to get around it,” he said.

Asked about what he still wants to accomplish in his live, he told Gunn that he felt that “it would be great to get the paperwork cleaned up in [his] office,” an answer that exemplified the casual character of the discussion and the down-to-earth nature of Moore. He also mentioned that he wants his foundation, which focuses on environmental issues, to be successful and he wants to “see a lot of things” that are in the works today: “I would like to come back in 100 years from now and see what [technology] has been developed [between now and then].”

Read all stories from TG Daily in our IDF Fall 2007 Wrap-up.