Moore's Law

Moore's Law, a projection of semiconductor manufacturing trends made by Gordon E. Moore, cofounder of the Intel Corp., in a 1965 magazine article. He observed that the number of transistors per square inch on a microprocessor chip had doubled each year since the integrated circuit had been invented, and this led him to project that the number of transistors on a chip would double every 18 months—a time interval he revised in 1975 to every two years. Although Moore's assessment of his industry's expected industrial progress was not a scientific law, it was subsequently dubbed Moore's Law by the American physicist Carver Mead.

Moore's 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 © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Electrical Engineering