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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Moore Muses on End of His Own Law

Gordon Moore, the billionaire co-founder of Intel, says the end of the technology maxim bearing his name is drawing to a close, perhaps as soon as 10 years from now.

Moore's Law -- based on the San Francisco native's observation in 1965 that the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles roughly every two years -- has for more than 40 years dictated the pace of change in the technology industry.

To be sure, many, including Moore himself, have predicted the law's demise numerous times before. But, now, as Intel and the rest of the industry have made features on chips so small, they're running out of space to cram in more transistors and bumping against the laws of physics.

"Another decade, a decade and a half, I think we'll hit something fairly fundamental" that would render the continuing pace of Moore's law untenable, Moore said on Tuesday at Intel's twice-annual technical conference, now in its 10th year.

Intel in January announced what it hailed as the biggest breakthrough in the basic building blocks of semiconductors in more than 40 years. The world's biggest chipmaker is now using an element called hafnium and metal gates in its chipmaking processes, which will let Moore's Law continue for now.

Moore served as executive vice president of Intel until 1975, when he became president and chief executive. He was elected chairman in 1979 and remained CEO until 1987. He was named chairman emeritus in 1997.

Asked what he would do if he were a youngster in college again, Moore paused before saying, "I'd probably look at something more in the biology mold. The interface between computers and biology now is a very interesting area."

"It's an exciting time," Moore, an avid deep sea fisherman, said later in the discussion. "I'd love to come back in 100 years and see what happened in the meantime."

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