“Shrinking chips no longer makes them faster or more efficient in the way that it used to. At the same time, the rising cost of the ultra-sophisticated equipment needed to make the chips is eroding the financial gains. Moore’s second law, more light-hearted than his first, states that the cost of a “foundry”, as such factories are called, doubles every four years. A modern one leaves little change from $10bn. Even for Intel, that is a lot of money. The result is a consensus among Silicon Valley’s experts that Moore’s law is near its end. “From an economic standpoint, Moore’s law is dead,” says Linley Gwennap, who runs a Silicon Valley analysis firm. Dario Gil, IBM’s head of research and development, is similarly frank: “I would say categorically that the future of computing cannot just be Moore’s law any more.” Bob Colwell, a former chip designer at Intel, thinks the industry may be able to get down to chips whose components are just five nanometres apart by the early 2020s – “but you’ll struggle to persuade me that they’ll get much further than that”
Vanishing point: the rise of the invisible computer
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