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A question for the technically inclined- Moore's Law, flawed?

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posted on May, 23 2009 @ 04:50 PM
I ran across this article:

Fundamental Flaw In Transistor Noise Theory Discovered

ScienceDaily (May 22, 2009) — Chip manufacturers beware: There's a newfound flaw in our understanding of transistor noise, a phenomenon affecting the electronic on-off switch that makes computer circuits possible.


While exploring transistor behavior, the team found evidence that a widely accepted model explaining errors caused by electronic "noise" in the switches does not fit the facts. A transistor must be made from highly purified materials to function; defects in these materials, like rocks in a stream, can divert the flow of electricity and cause the device to malfunction. This, in turn, makes it appear to fluctuate erratically between "on" and "off" states. For decades, the engineering community has largely accepted a theoretical model that identifies these defects and helps guide designers' efforts to mitigate them.


In this article. the author describes some new research which challenges our current understanding of small-scale material science/physics.

Moments later, I read this:

Counting Down to the End of Moore’s Law

May 22, 2009, 8:01 am
Counting Down to the End of Moore’s Law
By Saul Hansell

“We’re looking at a brick wall five years down the road,” Eli Harari, the chief executive of SanDisk, said to me earlier this week.


Normally, when I’ve talked to chip executives about the limits of Moore’s Law, they are confident, in a vague sort of way, that they will be able to continue to increase the capacity of their chips one way or another.

Mr. Harari was a great deal more precise about the brick wall his company is heading toward: “We are running out of electrons.”

“When we started out we had about one million electrons per cell,” or locations where information is stored on a chip, he said. “We are now down to a few hundred.” This simply can’t go on forever, he noted: “We can’t get below one.”

SanDisk and other flash memory makers have figured out how to cram even more information into that tiny cell. Until a few years ago, each of those cells worked the way most computer memory does — it represented either a zero or a one. Now the chip can actually count how many electrons are in a cell, and depending on the number it can write and read up to 16 states (recording a number between zero and 15, or four bits to a computer).


The problem here is that the way current flash technology stores those electrons, they don’t always follow instructions, especially as the memory card gets older.

“When you have a billion cells, you cannot uniformly control them to one electron,” Mr. Harari said. “If I want 40 electrons, plus or minus two electrons, I can do that when the device is new. But seven years out, it will start to smear.” In other words, the electron count will start to vary from one cell to the next.

SanDisk, to steal a line from a bigger Silicon Valley company, has an app for that. The controllers on each of its chips keep track of these errors and compensate for them.

There is still some more engineering to do. The company can try to make cells smaller, get more bits per cell and improve the controllers.

But at the end of the day, Mr. Harari said, it probably can double the capacity of its chips only two more times. Once the industry goes from its current 64-billion-bit chip to a 256-billion-bit chip (that’s 32 gigabytes), it will hit that brick wall.

Then what?

Your camera and music player will certainly be able to store a lot of files. But you won’t be able to count on next year’s iPhone having double the capacity at the same price.

He may be heading for a brick wall, but Mr. Harari has a plan: Head up.

“When Manhattan ran out of space, they built skyscrapers,” Mr. Harari said. “It’s the same for us.”

Right now semiconductors are all based on the particular properties of circuitry etched onto a flat piece of silicon. Four years ago, SanDisk bought Matrix Semiconductor, a company that was trying to develop a way to stack multiple layers of very tiny memory cells on top of one another.

(SanDisk is far from the only company trying to explore the third dimension in flash memory. Bill Watkins, the former chief executive of Seagate, recently joined the board of a company, Vertical Circuits, that uses a silver ooze to stack memory chips.)


Mr. Harari said the company’s engineers were making good progress. But he didn’t have the Pollyanna view of some chip executives that Moore’s Law will apply forever.

“When you have a new material, all bets are off,” he said. “Until you have it, you don’t have anything.”

Is this to say that physicist may be about to repeal the "Moore's Law"?

While the articles do not directly point to each other, it seems this is a synchronous pair. Maybe these researchers should get together with these engineers. Can someone tell me if they agree? Or am I imagining the connection between these two articles?

posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 09:47 PM
Well, about Moore's law....

It's more of a guideline, really.



posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 10:14 PM
reply to post by Edrick


At least someone read this at some point.....

posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 10:27 PM
I am no techno so you could help me understand this by first explaining "Moore's law"please.

posted on Jun, 23 2009 @ 10:48 PM
reply to post by genius/idoit

Moore's law is a prediction of the increase in circuit/transistor density.

His prediction was that circuit density (Transformers per area) would increase at the rate of Double per 18 months, pretty much for forever.


posted on Jun, 24 2009 @ 02:58 AM
Moores law is not a true law of physics, it is a rule of thumb used in manufacturing and design to predict future goals, so that companies do not fall behind the curve and become obsoleted by competition.

If they get control down to the single electron, than that is as far as electronics can ever be shrunk. It will not be a problem. It will mean that manufacturers will need to look for other ways to compete and optimize to deliver a more attractive product. Like the use of analog memory via the newly discovered memristor, and multiple state switches which can have three or more states rather than binary which only has on or off.
That route would soon be exhausted.

There are others working on alternatives to electrons, like photons. However everything has a real limit.

It will truly be amazing if they can control at anywhere near the single electron level. That is simply incredible. That would pretty much put us at the end of the computer age and into the beginning of the nano manufacturing age. The one industry will transform directly into the parent branch of the other.

posted on Jun, 24 2009 @ 03:34 AM
reply to post by Cyberbian

Moore's Law is not a true law of physics.

Correct. It is not, as you explained, a natural law - it's just a rule of thumb for manufacturers.

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