“We just plain ran out of atoms,” says Mark Bohr about physical limitations, while Robert Colwell sees a lack of profit as the deciding factor

Moore’s Law about to end ‘because of economics, not physics’

Moore’s Law could end as early as 2020, with economics, rather than physics, being the main reason for its demise, experts have predicted.

Moore’s Law, named for Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, states that the number of transistors contained on integrated circuits is doubled roughly every two years. While the law is generally used to refer to chip performance, the evolution of other electronic components such as memory and processing speeds also tend to follow the trend.

As reported by The Register, Robert Colwell of DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office spoke on Monday at Stanford University’s Hot Chips conference.

“When Moore’s Law ends, it will be economics that stops it, not physics,” said Colwell, who previously worked as chief chip architect at Intel.

Although Colwell dismisses physics as a restriction on chip evolution, Intel Fellow Mark Bohr has previously stated that physical space began to cause issues for chip engineers in the early 2000s. “We just plain ran out of atoms,” said Bohr in 2011.

Instead, Colwell forecasts that economics would halt the rapid progression of technology, as more advanced chips become less likely to make profit.

“Chip companies don’t make the bulk of their profits from the top-of-the-line chips, but instead from the huge numbers of run-of-the-mill follow-on chips that they peddle,” he said, explaining that chip companies such as Intel would lose interest in smaller and smaller chips if they failed to appeal to a consumer market.

“Follow the money,” he advised.

Microchip picture courtesy of Shutterstock.co.uk

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