Friday, September 16, 2005

Moore's miniaturization dream

Interesting piece on the ever-shrinking, lightening speed chips.
Chip makers brace for slower pace in Moore's Law By Lucas van Grinsven and Nathan Layne TOKYO (Reuters) - The journey to ever smaller, faster and cheaper chips is slowing down and may put a big dent in sales and profits of the semiconductor sector and even the economy, industry players and analysts said this week. Until recently, chip makers doubled the capacity of their products at the same size and cost every 18 to 24 months, helped by miniaturization and scale advantages, a phenomenon known as Moore's Law, named after the Intel co-founder Gordon Moore who predicted this trend as early as in 1965. As Moore predicted, a transistor that cost about $1 in 1968 dropped to just under 10 cents in about five years. The cost again fell 10-fold every four to five years until 1985 when the cycle lengthened to seven years, according to Intel and Dataquest data. Technically, his trendline continues, with lithography machines steadily shrinking the detail on a chip from 130 nanometers in 2001 to 90 nm in 2003 to 65 nm 2005 and set to move to commercial chips with 45-nm detail in 2007. Miniaturization boosts chip processing speed by cutting down on the distance the electric load must travel. But only the biggest chip producers are installing the latest and most expensive machines. This is effectively slowing down Moore's Law, chip makers say. (read full article)