Moore's Law: 50 years leading the way for humanity

Did you know that, without Moore's Law, the world of today will not have a smartphone and even no ... Internet?

50 years ago, Intel's founder made a prediction that every 2 years, the computer's processing speed will be doubled. Did you know that, without Moore's Law, the world of today will not have a smartphone and even no . Internet?

In 1965, Gorden Moore, Intel's founder, made the observation that "Over the years, the number of semiconductor chips in integrated circuits will be doubled . " What Mr. Moore probably did not anticipate was that his highly optimistic prediction at that time was now the guideline for the world: every two years, the computing power of microprocessors The reason must be doubled. If this does not happen, technology devices will lose the ability to realize human creativity, leading to stagnation in both technology and economy and society.

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View of Intel's Ronler Acres factory.

When asked what would happen if 50 years ago Gordon Moore did not make the observation, Adrian Valenzuela, marketing manager at Texas Instruments, said: " The consequences will be so terrible that I cannot express. with words ". Jeff Bokor, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, encapsulates this scenario with a single word: " Disaster ".

You may find it hard to believe, but the fact that " No human invention can describe future growth" like Moore's Law (quoted by author Michael Malone in a spoken book about Intel). Regardless of whether you are a fan of the compact iPhone or Android tablet for under $ 200, you need to thank Gordon Moore.

In the past week, Mooore's law has officially celebrated its 50th anniversary. Before taking note of the historical significance of this law, look back at the history of Moore's Law and dismiss some completely misconceptions about a law that contributed to our digital life. now on.

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Gordon Moore.

A "law" takes 10 years to get a name

In fact, the word "law" in the name "Moore's Law" does not carry the same meaning with the word "law" in the name "Newton's law" or "Gauss's law" . In 1965, in an article titled " Adding more components to an integrated circuit " to Electronics magazine, Gordon Moore predicted that the number of components (transistors) in integrated circuits - sets Computer brains - will double every year. About a decade later, Dr. Moore changed his conclusions, whereby the number of transistors would take two years to double - the number of "18 months" given by many people never existed. on Moore's Law.

Initially, Gordon Moore's observations still do not have an official name. It wasn't until 1975, Carver Mead, a professor at the California Institute of Technology and who worked with Moore at the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, officially gave the name "Moore's Law." " It's a name that lasts longer than anything one could expect at the time, " recalled Gordon Moore in an interview earlier this year.

The object of Moore's Law is transistors (transistors / resistors) - electronic components have only two "on" and "off" states for electrical signals. Thanks to transistors (originally light bulbs, and later silicon transistors), electronic devices can perform information processing and complete tasks entrusted by humans. Nobody can deny that semiconductor chips are the "brains" of laptops, smartphones, tablets and all electronic devices that are playing an important role in your life. Moore's Law is the only law that makes those "brains" become more and more intelligent: the more the number of semiconductors on a chip, the more processing speed of that chip will increase. .

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Intel's product launch schedule always corresponds to Moore's Law.

A prophecy, a pursuit

Over the past 50 years, Moore's Law is not just a prophecy about the speed of the microprocessor manufacturing industry: chip makers are forced to find ways to keep Moore's Law always right. . To do this, they have to find production cycles that minimize the size of the transistors. Initially, transistors were a few centimeters in size. Now, on the latest chips, the size of a transistor is even smaller than a biological virus. This goal continues to be pursued by processor manufacturers such as Intel and Samsung: recently, Samsung has launched the first 14nm mobile chip on the Galaxy S6.

However, semiconductor size is not the most significant when it comes to Moore's Law: the most important meaning of this Law is that human electronic devices will become more and more intelligent in a cycle. stable .

When putting Moore's Law into a pursuit, people have achieved impressive achievements over the past 50 years. For example, Texas Instruments processors placed in today's Ford car routing system are more powerful than LVDC computer processors that helped Louis Armstrong and colleagues set foot on the Moon to . 1.8 million times. The increasing processing power and the size of electronic devices are declining: the current iPhone 6 is capable of calculating 1 million times more than the IBM computers of 1975, which are the The size is as big as a room.

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Compared to early computers, today's smartphones are really a miracle miracle.

At the same time, semiconductor chip manufacturing costs are increasingly being cut, enabling consumers to touch devices that were once considered "luxury". 20 years ago, desktop computers cost thousands of dollars, but for now, a laptop running Windows can reach prices below $ 500 (about 10 million). On the contrary, the speed of electronic devices consumption today has helped the semiconductor industry to reach a value of 300 billion USD.

The metronome clock for all mankind

The time factor in Moore's Law is the only factor that makes the difference between high-tech and other industries. Once it has been determined that the processing speed (in terms of the number of semiconductors on a chip) will double by the frequency of 2 years / time, the whole high-tech industry, from electric equipment manufacturing companies Household appliances to manufacturing microprocessor manufacturing equipment companies all identify the creative, innovative "rhythms" they need to pursue.

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Galaxy S6, the first electronic device with a 14nm semiconductor chip.

If this is not possible, companies will be left behind: " Instead of becoming a law that describes the progress of technology, Moore's Law has become the driving force for this industry. ", Gordon Moore affirmed. Taking the same opinion with Moore is Tsu-Jae King Liu, a microelectronics professor at UC Berkeley: " This is a prophecy that people pursue, and therefore, it becomes a law" .

What will happen if 50 years ago Gordon Moore did not make this observation? In that scenario, it is possible, human technological inventions will be lagging behind for decades. We are accustomed to the notion that technology devices will become better, faster and cheaper. If Moore's Law is not created to promote human creativity, it is very likely that "the Internet has been impossible ", according to Genevieve Bell, a research specialist at Intel. Facebook will not exist, YouTube will probably appear on . tapes, and smartphones may not even come out.

In fact, this scenario is not so hard to imagine. Moore's Law does not exist in other industries, and therefore these industries also take a lot of time to develop and take advantage of new ideas and technologies. The most typical example is the car manufacturing industry: the gasoline engine burned on cars almost unchanged from the Henry Ford era until now. In the last two years, with the push from technology giant Elon Musk (PayPal), car manufacturers have begun to pay attention to a completely new engine (electric motor ).

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Tesla rose rapidly by owning the innovative model of the IT industry instead of the traditional car industry.

Similarly, the reason for the battery life on your smartphone over the past few years is almost unchanged because battery technologies cannot keep up with the speed of microprocessor development. " There are very few industries that have a clear picture of the quality improvement and price benefits within two years," said HS Philip Wong, a professor at Stanford University.

However, this still does not prevent Moore's Law from changing the whole world. The rapid increase in processing speed makes it impossible for the former to become possible: humans have built massive space stations, building telescopes to find new galaxies. . Even sci-fi scenarios such as self-driving cars or civil drone are no longer far away. The most significant is the technology revolution right in the lives of people (personal computers, smartphones) or in the medical field (wireless charging cardio machines). Finally, the increased processing speed allows supercomputers to contribute to solutions to improve the production cycle, economic studies can change the face of society.

Death of Moore's Law?

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Intel Core M, Intel's solution for thin, light tablet and laptop era.

Although the impact of Moore's Law in the past 50 years is undeniable, in recent years many technology experts have voiced warnings about the near "death" of this law. For example, since 2012, the cost of producing silicon semiconductor chips has suddenly increased as research to increase processing speed increasingly requires more "heavy" investments than before. More worrisome, silicon is increasingly approaching the physical limits, a direct threat to the creative rhythm "doubling every two years" that has ingested the hi-tech subconscious. This means that the pace of human development in the economic and scientific fields will also be threatened.

However, scientists have quickly found a solution to bring Moore's Law to a new life: Gallium Nitride (GaN) . As silicon is getting closer to the critical point and increasing costs, the achievements achieved with GaN promise to allow future microprocessors to maintain the current pace of development. Even GaN semiconductors today have 10 times the performance of silicon.

GaN's birth is more meaningful than ever, because people are standing in a transition period requiring Moore's Law to continue to be preserved for at least the next 10 years. Over the past few years, the world has witnessed a significant increase in the number of smart devices through the smartphone revolution. When this revolution was just showing signs of slowing down, the trend of Internet of Things continued to appear. Let the idea of ​​Internet of Things become a reality, demanding to reduce size, reduce costs and speed up the processing of semiconductor chips to become more and more intense. At the same time, the explosion of social networks and cloud computing models require increasingly powerful future servers to handle the mass of human-generated data.

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The Curie chip was released by Intel in January at CES 2015.

Intel has been anticipating the future. At the CES fair, which took place in Las Vegas in January, the world's No. 1 microprocessor manufacturer launched Curie - a computing module the size of a button to equip smart wearable devices. . Although PC sales have consistently declined in recent years, Intel's chips are still the first choice consumers and businesses think of.

But Intel's biggest legacy for humanity is not processor models. That's "Moore's Law" , a law that Professor Wong likens to "water and air" : " We cannot exist without the Moore's Law" .

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