SAN FRANCISCO--How long will Moore's Law last?
The question remains the subject of debate in the IC industry, but Gordon Moore himself has devised another prediction about his own famous axiom. The axiom--devised by Intel Corp. founder Moore--states that the number of transistors in a processor will double every 18 months.
Moore believes his axiom will have legs for at least ten more years--if not longer. If the semiconductor industry continues to move down the two- or three-year cycle in terms of process technology, then traditional IC scaling will last "ten years, plus or minus two years," Moore said.
In other words, chip makers will be able to "make conventional transistors down to the 30-nm range," Moore said during a keynote address at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco today.
Moore also acknowledged that silicon scaling faces several challenges beyond the next decade, but he dismissed the notion that quantum computing, molecular electronics, and other exotic technologies are poised to replace conventional silicon.
"Silicon is a powerful technology," he said. "If you look at it, another decade is straightforward. To me, it's unlikely that it will be replaced out of the bloom," he said during a question and answer session after the keynote.
And what about the "exotic" technologies? "Quantum computing is a long ways away. If quantum computing computes anything, I would be surprised," he added.
But still, it is not a slam-dunk for silicon as well. "There is still a lot to do," he said, "but there's a lot of life to go in this industry."
Among the challenges in the IC industry is the shift towards next-generation lithography (NGL) and materials to enable future chip designs.
For example, Moore predicted that an NGL technology based on extreme ultraviolet (EUV) would not get deployed in production fabs until 2008. EUV, which is supposed to replace optical lithography, promises to process wafers at the 65-nm and below. "EUV requires a lot of engineering before it goes into production," he said.