PORTLAND, Ore. — Every engineer is worried whether Moore's Law (that the density of transistors will double every two years) can be extended forever. So far, merely scaling to smaller sizes has kept Moore's Law in play, but now that we are approaching the atomic scale, many see the handwriting on the wall: When you get down to one atom per memory cell, Moore's Law has to end — or does it?
Many other factors are involved besides size. Scaling is but one hurdle Moore's Law has to clear, according to University of Michigan professor Igor Markov, IEEE Fellow and author of VLSI Physical Design (Springer). In this month's Nature, Markov explores the fundamental limits to computation from manufacturing to energy consumption, physical sizes, algorithms, and design and verification efforts.
“In 1956, Richard Feynman famously pointed out that 'There's plenty of room at the bottom.' This is no longer the case, but there's plenty of energy at the bottom,” Markov told EE Times. “A few years ago, the semiconductor industry realized that energy-efficiency can be improved quite a bit, but instead of traditional scaling one must rely on new, clever tricks, including micro-architectural restructuring.”
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— R. Colin Johnson is the Advanced Technology Editor of EE Times.