What is Moore's Law?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

AMD Phenom X4 9850 2.5GHz 4x512KB Socket AM2+ Quad-Core CPUMost modern processors, microchips and small electronic components are made up of tiny transistors. In the 1970's, the term Moore's Law was popularized. The law was named after Intel co-founder Gordon MooreMoore's Law describes the rapid advancement in the increase of the number of transistors that can be fit into the same space in a die. It predicted that number of transistors that can be crammed into a processor will practically double every 2 years. A die is the raw material from which processor is made from. This is where the transistors are carved out of in very very tiny detail. Now I am using the processor as a specific example because it is the subject of most discussion about Moore's Law. Also it is in the manufacturing of processor that technologies in miniaturization are first proven. After these 'fabrication' technologies have proven cost effective enough are they snapped up by other industries for manufacturing other electronics.
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 Although mostly refered to when talking about processors, Moore's Law also affects advancements in other electronic components that similarly benefit from high transistor density in small packages. Things like the digital camera sensors, computer memory (RAM) and solid-state drives are all fashioned after dies etched with transistors. Even the microchips that make it possible for your LCD TV to process images, or your Blu-Ray player to play those movies.

Kingston SSDNow V100 64GB SATA II 3GB/s 2.5 Inch Solid State Drive SV100S2/64GZMoore's Law was originally just a forecast of a trend, but as technologies in manufacturing have advanced, it has become a self-fulfilled prophecy. Think about it. Every 2 years or so, there's a huge increase in the mega-pixels a digital camera will have for the same amount of money. Same goes for computer memory. I remember when I assembled my first computer some 8 years back that 512 MB of memory was a lot. Now, you'll see current computers selling with at least 4GB of memory. Just think back to a few years ago when laptops cost over a thousand dollars each. Now, we have laptops that work just as fast and can be had for half that. All of these advances are the effect of miniaturization and the cost savings that goes with it.

Hewlett Packard - HP Pavilion dm1z AMD Dual-Core FUSION Processor E-350 (1.6GHz, 1MB L2 Cache)+AMD Radeon(TM) HD 6310M Discrete-Class Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, 3GB DDR3 RAM, 320GB 7200RPM Hard Drive, 11.6" diagonal High Definition HP BrightView LED Display (1366x768), Webcam, 802.11b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth, 6-cell batteryMoore's Law is good for both manufacturers and consumers. It allows manufacturers to do more with less material and cost. It gives us consumers more bang for our hard-earned buck. So you could say both sides get more for what they pay for. The next time you overhear a geek mention Moore's Law, you won't be clueless and you'll be more appreciative about what they're talking about.

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