pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Wed Jul 10 15:20:41 EDT 2002
(from NewsScan Daily, 10 July 2002)
MORE LIFE IN MOORE'S LAW
Moore's Law, which predicts that the number of transistors on a chip
will double very two years, will "slow down" a bit in the coming
years, says Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, for whom the law is named.
"You really get bit by the fact that the materials are made of
atoms." Alternatives to conventional chipmaking techniques, such as
nanotechnology, are still in development, but haven't evolved to the
point that they can take on silicon, says Moore, who notes that
crafting single transistors is one thing, but "housing a billion of
them on a chip is another." Still, scientific ingenuity has overcome
conventional thinking in the past: "I remember we didn't think we
could go beyond 1 micron because of optical lithography."
(CNet News.com 9 Jul 2002)
A LITTLE NANO NEWS
Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana have developed a way to
get molecules to grow into microelectronic circuit elements, which
will -- sometime in the fairly distant future -- make it possible for
microscopic integrated circuits to be put together molecule by
molecule. Nanotechnology expert Chad Mirkin cautions against false
optimism: "In nanotech, you have to be careful about overselling the
electronics side of it, even though that's what's driven a lot of
interest in this research. Nanotech is going to impact so many areas,
but electronics will be one of the last ones because it is so hard."
(KRT/San Jose Mercury News 10 Jul 2002)
That's usually the rub, that even while it becomes possible to make
single, or small groups, of ever smaller devices, one mustn't get
one's hope up too fast, because making them cheaply and reliably in
huge coordinated numbers can be very hard. But that's the necessary
basis for electronics.
Also not to be forgotten alongside Moore's Law is the lesser-known
Rock's Law (named after Arthur Rock, Intel's first venture capitalist
investor), which posits that the cost of a wafer fabrication plant
doubles every four years, expected to be in the $30 billion range by
the end of this decade.
Both "laws" (Moore's and Rock's) have of course nothing to do with
natural law, but describe a balance between technological progress and
available capital investment, the latter governed by your eagerness
to buy your next computer.
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