29.09.2017, by Frederique de Roos
Making predictions about the future is risky business in the world of technology. Data changes as time passes and technological advancements come in leaps and bounds. In 1965, Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, made an interesting prediction. He predicted that each year, the number of transistors that can be placed on a single integrated circuit doubles. The ambitious prediction proved to be wrong in the mid 70’s, when the development stalled quite a bit. After recalculating, Moore came back with the current prediction that projects that the number of transistors doubles every two years. In other words; single integrated circuits improve by 50% each year. This rapid advancement is one of the reasons our bulky computers have turned into small waver-thin laptops and our comparatively big mobile-phones have transformed into sleek smartphones.
This prediction has proven to be very accurate since the revision in 1975, with Intel being one of the main contributors to this trend. Many believe Moore’s Law has become a self fulfilling prophecy, where chip-developers measure their success to what the trend requires from them. Either way, it seems to be working! The trend has been stagnating slightly since 2013, which puts the growth around 2,5 years instead of 2. Still, it seems to keep its relative accuracy. However, that doesn’t mean it will be able to go on indefinitely, as research shows that it is likely that the law will see its end around 2025. This is primarily so, because making the components smaller is getting harder, as you can only make something so small and have it still function correctly (e.g. the actual laws of physics). In a recent project, the Berkeley Research Lab made circuits about the size of a red blood cell (this is 10 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair), beating Intel to succeeding this milestone. Machines as small as rice-grains aren’t such a far off reality after all, but a part of it is also dependent on funding and on the willingness to invest in integrated circuits.
What Does This Mean for Future Developments?
Don’t expect your smartphone to get paper thin any time soon. Making circuits smaller is one thing, shrinking battery space is another thing entirely.
What can be done is making smaller chips contain a lot more data. Collecting and holding information will take less space and will be a lot more efficient than current systems. Making your Smartphones… Smarter.