The author of Moore's Law said Tuesday that the 27-year trend of chip performance doubling every two years may start to slow down.
Gordon Moore, chairman emeritus of Intel Corp., told a briefing after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, that "hooking up billions of transistors on a chip is something that could space out the performance doubling eventually to every four or five years. We're starting to shrink [chips] less rapidly than in the past," Moore said.
For the near future, however, Moore said that, "if we have EUV [extreme ultraviolet lithography] in time, we should stay on the two-year cycle for a while."
The co-founder of Intel believed that "CMOS technology will be able to make chips at the 30-nanometer node with actual devices on the chip at half that size.
"It's amazing how creative people get when the industry starts to face a technological barrier," he said. "I've never been able to forecast more than three generations. But we can go down to 30nm."
Asked what could be the next big revolution in electronics, Moore pointed to "good speech recognition to talk to the computer as if were an individual. You can have an intelligent conversation with your computer. This would make computing available to people who are scared off by a keyboard.
"But I don't know if this is 10 years or 50 years away. I suspect it is closer to 50 years. The technology has been five to 10 years away for a long time."
Moore also said he has changed his mind about the importance of foundries to the semiconductor industry.
"At one time I was skeptical about foundries. I thought they built capacity and didn't have products to fill" their fabs, he said. "But now the cost of building your own fab is so high than only a few of us are able to do it. Foundries are the solution for the rest of the people who want to design and build products."
The presidential citation didn't mention Moore's Law, but hailed Moore's contributions and participation in the microchip industry. Moore was also cited for his "multibillion dollar" philanthropic contributions.
He said the major focus of the foundation is protection of the environment worldwide, supporting science and higher education, and special projects in the Bay Area "where I grew up and lived."
Moore said he felt that private foundations could support research "that is a little further afield and more speculative" than the government is willing to back.