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Moore's Law

Moore's law is a key observation and projection turned self-fulfilling prophecy in the semiconductor industry that states that the number of transistors on a dense integrated circuit roughly doubles every 24 months.

The law is largely a law of economics whereby the scaling of devices allows for more logic to be packed at a lower price. The law has had a significant impact on the advancement of integrated circuits and the semiconductor industry as a whole, largely due to its self-fulfilling prophecy nature. The law is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor, whose original 1965 paper became the basis for this law.

Derivatives of the law - although not exponentially - have found their way into almost every field of technology, including memory capacity, digital cameras pixel and resolution, and even sensors. The law has resulted in a number of misconceptions and wrong interpretations especially concerning the performance and clock frequency of microprocessors.


The law dates back to Gordon Moore's 1965 paper:

The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year. Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. That means by 1975, the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost will be 65,000. I believe that such a large circuit can be built on a single wafer.
—Gordon Moore; Electronics Magazine Vol. 38, No. 8 (April 19, 1965)

In an updated article in 1975 Moore updated his statement to 24 months:

Complexity of integrated circuits has approximately doubled every year since their introduction. Cost per function has decreased several thousand-fold, while system performance and reliability have been improved dramatically. ... The new slope might approximate a doubling every two years, rather than every year, by the end of the decade. ...
—Gordon Moore; International Electron Devices Meeting, Technical Digest, IEEE (1975)

His 1975 paper went on to address the question of limits, concluding the trend will continue for another decade and will reach its limits around 1985.


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