On April 19, 1965, Gordon Moore, a
co-founder of Intel, first published his now seminal paper in which he observed
that the number of transistors that can be fabricated per unit area of silicon
will double each year (he subsequently amended this to every two years). Now dubbed
Law, it has held true for more than 50
So how does Moore’s Law play a role in the evolution of
Although essentially concerned with the chemistry and
physics of etching transistors and other electronic devices into silicon to
make integrated circuits, the effect of Moore’s Law consequently and
exponentially reduced the manufacturing cost of microchips. The microprocessor-based
digital revolution, which is all around us, would not have been possible
without the intrinsic economic advantages associated with faster, more
efficient processors first seeded by the race to comply with Moore’s Law.
The rapid growth of cloud computing is further evidence
of the commercial benefit associated with Moore’s Law. Each and every data center
(cloud or otherwise) utilizes technology that has leveraged Moore’s Law. Data centers
are facilities where data is aggregated, processed and stored; the cost of
computing and data storage has been tumbling and it is no coincidence that many
technologies used therein are inherently rich in microprocessors.
Will Moore’s Law hold for another 50 years? Probably not!
Even Gordon Moore projects that his law will start to ‘slow’ within 10
years; however, the gating factor will probably be economics and not physics.
The relatively high cost associated with very small scale chip manufacturing (less
than 20nm gate separation) would likely result in the processing cost for a unit
of information hitting a saddle-point or
even increasing and Moore’s Law, as we know it, will be broken.
When this happens we could see a shift away from a focus
on increasing processing capacity within small discrete platforms such as
personal computers, laptops and smart phones, and a shift towards increasing
the processing and energy efficiency of entire data centers. That being the
case, is there a Moore’s Law equivalent for data centers?
Should we expect data centers to double their processing
capability and halve their power usage every two years for the next 50 years? If
you would like to submit an answer to these questions or if you have a question
about Moore’s Law and data centers, leave a comment below and I will be sure to