Moore's law, the observation made by Gordon Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corp., in a 1965 magazine article that the number of transistors per square inch on a microprocessor chip had doubled each year since the integrated circuit had been invented. This led Moore to predict that the number of transistors on a chip would double every 18 months—a time interval he later revised to every two years. Technically an axiom rather than a law, the prediction was subsequently dubbed Moore's law by the American physicist Carver Mead. The law became something of a self-fulfilling prophecy as microchip and electronics manufacturers competed to develop faster, smaller, and cheaper electronic devices; by the early 21st cent., the number of transistors on a typical memory chip had gone far beyond 1 billion. It is generally accepted that technological improvements in miniaturization and microelectronics will reach a point where circuits are only a few atoms wide, making it physically impossible to make them even smaller. To maintain the pace projected by Moore's law, new technologies such as quantum computers, optical switches, and spintronics will need to be developed.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.