Hafnium Extends Law for Moore
The Age has a description of the next technology in computer chips, as announced by Intel and IBM, amid some interesting commentary on Moore’s Law. This breakthrough uses the unusual metal hafnium rather than silicon. Hafnium has good electrical characteristics and is denser and more accurately etched into narrow bands. It will make it possible for new components to double the number of transistor elements just in time to keep Mr. Moore honest.
I’m gratified to see the suggestion in writing that Gordon’s Guesstimate has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have thought so myself. Some think it's just a mirage caused by shifting goalposts. This is interesting, but ignores the incontrovertible fact that computing technology has advanced beyond our wildest dreams -- every two years or so, I would say. The spotlight that Moore's Law has put on this is also undeniable. One could hope that the same kind of focus ensued from, for example, Bush’s Mars Mission. But I’m afraid nobody believes him. Without the belief, the schedule is fantasy.
The prediction of a “singularity” in human/technology development by 2040 is not as powerful either. It is more like religious millenialism. There is no way to know whether it’s right until we get there. And when we don’t get there on the projected date, they just say, our calculations were off. We really meant to say 2050.
The real power of Moore’s Law is as a quantitative measure of progress in a designated domain. He predicts … we observe … we believe. It is up to specialists in connected fields to understand what those predictions mean to them and to do their part in making the magic happen.
2/7/2007 11:38 PM
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