Moore's Law Won't Last Forever, Says Moore

In a "fireside chat" with NPR "Tech Nation's" Moira Gunn, Intel co-founder and chairman emeritus Gordon Moore said he sees his famous law expiring in 10 to 15 years.

"Moore's Law" — actually an axiom — says that the number of transistors in a given integrated circuit will double in some fixed amount of time.

That time originally started out as eighteen months, but has since been pushed back to about every two years. That has had a corollary effect on performance as well as power consumption.

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On Tuesday at the Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco, Moore said he expects his famous law to expire in ten to fifteen years.

The reason, he explained, is fundamentally theoretical: "any physical quantity growing exponentially predicts disaster," he said. "It comes to an end. You can't go beyond any major limit."

Practically, the limits of how thin one can build a gate oxide is also reaching a limit. Today, those oxides are just five molecules thick.

"You can't go beyond one," Moore said. "In fact, you really can't go beyond five before you hit some major limits."

The fact that Intel has — using an element called hafnium to dope the silicon — has allowed Intel to keep pushing the limits. Those and other types of innovations are the continuing hope for the semiconductor industry.

And what happens when the ideas run out? Well, that question wasn't asked.

Moore also revealed that the original name of Intel was "Moore-Noyes Electronics," the combination of Moore's name and Intel co-founder Robert Noyes.

However, as Moore pointed out, an electronics firm advertising itself as "more noise" doesn't exactly sell itself.