Thinking About Moore's Law

Few phenomena in the digital universe have had such a profound effect on information and communication technology as Moore's law. It can be stated succinctly in two different ways:

  • “Transistor density on integrated circuits doubles about every two years.” – The Intel Corporation1
  • “The size of each transistor on an integrated circuit chip will be reduced by 50 percent every twenty-four months.” – Raymond Kurzweil2

The doubling of computer central processing unit (CPU) speed and storage capacity every two years since 1958 has dramatically affected every type of digital technology. This doubling presents an exponential growth rate in computing and storage capacity that is astonishing for its longevity over half a century (see Figure 2.2). Consider any device that you use daily that has a digital processor or storage chip in it – a mobile phone, portable music player, digital camera, tablet computer, television set, or any other device that can process or store digital information. The simultaneous miniaturization and exponential expansion of the processing power of these chips makes it possible for a mobile phone to include a music player, Internet browser, video camera, and GPS location finder. Next time you use your mobile phone, consider its power as an information-processing device and think about the reaction of Alexander Graham Bell if he could ...

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