Magazine article Marketing

TechKnow: Moore's Law Is Dead - So What Comes Next?

Magazine article Marketing

TechKnow: Moore's Law Is Dead - So What Comes Next?

Article excerpt

The development of digital technology has transformed our lives, and marketers can learn vital lessons from how the tech world handles change, writes Mel Exon.

When Gordon Moore calculated in the mid-1960s that the number of components per chip would double every year or so - with a corresponding decrease in the cost per component - it wasn't clear whether this was based upon robust scientific data, or just a theory that the whole semiconductor industry got behind and treated as a viable road map.

More than three decades later, it no longer mattered: the theory had proved itself as silicon chips continued to shrink in size and got cheaper with every couple of years.

Perhaps it wasn't driven solely by an industry road map; software developers and users also demanded more as the years went by. Either way, user value has grown to the extent that we now have devices you can hold in your hand that are more powerful than the massive mainframes of old.

There are physical limitations to how much further this can go, however And, despite considerable research into finding an alternative to silicon, none has yet materialised.

As Paolo Gargini, chairman of the industry body overseeing the road map for semiconductors, comments: 'Top-of-the-line microprocessors currently have circuit features that are around 14 nanometres across ... that's already smaller than most viruses.' He goes on to question whether anything smaller would qualify as a viable device, given the quantum uncertainties surrounding electrons of that size, which would make the transistors unreliable at best.

And so, finally, it looks like the chips are down for Moore's Law.

On one level, this is not surprising. Technology has driven change since the Stone Age, and it's an industry built on obsolescence; think metals coming on the scene, and poor old stone being slowly edged out.

One could argue that we are always somewhere on an S curve. This is particularly true of new technologies. There is no neat, linear pattern to growth: successful new technologies hit a point where their growth accelerates exponentially, then, inevitably, that growth slows as markets mature. Then a new technology adopts the same pattern. …

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