Anyone who has spent some time in the computer industry will be familiar with Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors on a computer chips doubles ever two years. This will in turn make them smaller, cheaper and more powerful, or will it?
We’re getting to a point now where the number of transistors we can fit on a chip via smaller and smaller manufacturing processes is reaching a theoretical limit, beyond which the laws of physics won’t allow the chip to function as transistors can only be made so small.
“We’ve been spoiled by these devices getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper in every generation. We’re just going to have to live with prices levelling off.” said Henry Samueli, Chief Technology Officer at Broadcom
With demand for more and more chips each year, with greater performance, and technology to research and construct smaller and smaller chips, costs are inevitably spiralling and Samueli thinks that chips getting cheaper and cheaper has to stop at some point. He is absolutely right too. With Broadcom putting 15nm chips into production next year, and in three generation’s time they’ll be working with 5nm chips. At 5nm the transistors will be just ten atoms wide, beyond that the laws of physics prevent further advancement.
“You can’t build a transistor with one atom. As of yet, we have not seen a viable replacement for the CMOS transistor as we’ve known it for the last 50 years,” said Samueli.
Moore’s Law will have to be broken, at some point in the near future chips will no be able to use smaller transistors and they won’t be getting cheaper, although I don’t doubt that they’ll still be getting more powerful.
Thank you Telegraph for providing us with this information.
Image courtesy of Telegraph.