We can’t make the transistors on silicon chips any smaller, is this the end of Moore’s Law?
In 1965, Gordon Moore proposed that the number of transistors on a silicon chip would double every year. Moore’s Law, as it is now known, proved prophetic about the exponential growth of computing power that made much of the modern world possible.
Starting around 2010, however, Moore’s Law began to break down and many today are asking if our age of unprecedented growth is coming to an end. There are three major factors contributing to the slowing rate of growth in processor power, and they’re all related.
First, you have electrical leakage. For decades, as transistors got smaller, they became more energy efficient. Now, however, they have gotten so small, as small as 10 nanometers, that the channel that carries the electrical current through the transistor cannot always contain it.
This generates heat which can wear out the transistors more quickly, making them even more susceptible to leakage. Heat isn’t just limited to one transistor though. Billions of transistors leaking can seriously threaten the integrity of the whole chip, so the processor must reduce the amount of voltage it takes in or throttle the number of transistors in use to prevent overheating, limiting the processing power of the chip.
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