This April marks the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law, an insightful observation long used to benchmark the pace of semiconductor technology advancement. In his pivotal paper, “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits” (Electronics, April 19, 1965), Gordon E. Moore predicted that integrated circuits would lead to such “wonders” as home computers and mobile devices, products we cannot imagine living without today.
More famously, he also recognized that the number of transistors, or “components,” in a processor was doubling roughly every 12 months. Later known as Moore’s Law, this expected rate of development has continued to hold true, although the time period for transistor doubling has increased to 24 months. Moore also noted that as more transistors are put in a chip, the manufacturing cost per transistor decreased. The result is that chips are exponentially faster and cheaper than those of the previous generation.
Over the years, the semiconductor industry has overcome many technology and productivity obstacles in order to maintain the trajectory of Moore’s Law. Some of the innovative solutions developed include copper/low-k interconnects and new transistor materials. Today the industry is tackling 3D architectures, multiple patterning schemes, and advanced packaging technologies, all to keep us on track in producing smaller chips with higher performance and lower cost. At Lam Research, we are proud to play an important role in this innovation, helping enable our customers to extend the limits of chip technology.
In celebration of this milestone, we take a look at how some familiar items have evolved in the past 50 years. It’s truly amazing how far we’ve come, and we can only wonder at the advancements yet to be.