[moor, mawr, mohr]
Moore, Archie, 1913-98, American boxer, b. Benoit, Miss., as Archie Lee Wright. He claimed to have been born in 1916 in Collinsville, Ill. He first boxed professionally as a middleweight in 1935 or 1936, winning his first 13 matches by knockouts. In a long and colorful career Moore, a clever boxer and dangerous puncher, engaged in 220 recorded bouts and scored 136 knockouts, a record in boxing history. In 1952 he won the light heavyweight title from Joey Maxim, holding it until 1962. Moore twice fought for the heavyweight championship—in 1955 he was beaten by Rocky Marciano, and in 1956 he lost to Floyd Patterson.

See his autobiography (1960).

Moore, Barrington, 1913-, American sociologist and political scientist. Moore has written a number of books on historical sociology that focus on Soviet society. Based at the Russian Research Center at Harvard, he published Soviet Politics: The Dilemma of Power (1950) and Terror and Progress: USSR (1954), both of which established the foundations of a political sociology of Soviet power. His best-known work is Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (1966), a masterpiece of comparative methodology that uses both Marxian and Weberian analysis and inspired similar studies in the sociology of historical processes. His other writings include Political Power and Social Theory (1958), Reflections on the Causes of Human Misery (1973), and Injustice (1978).
Moore, Brian, 1921-99, Canadian-American novelist, b. Belfast, Northern Ireland. He emigrated to Canada in 1948, where he was a reporter for the Montreal Gazette. He later moved to the United States and was a longtime resident of Malibu, Calif., although he maintained Canadian citizenship. While his novels are often concerned with people who are capable of hypocrisy and self-delusion, a comic vein runs through them. In clear, precise prose, Moore sets his beautifully drawn, isolated characters against a world marked by provincialism and religiosity. Moore's fiction has never been enormously popular, but it is strongly admired by other writers and a devoted group of readers. His novels, each of which is strikingly different in plot, setting, and historical period, include The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1956), The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1960), The Great Victorian Collection (1975), Black Robe (1985), Lies of Silence (1990), The Statement (1996), and The Magician's Wife (1998). Several of his works were made into films. He also wrote under the name Michael Bryan.

See D. Sampson, Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist (1998); studies by H. Dahlie (1969, 1981), J. Flood (1974), K. McSweeney (1983), J. O'Donoghue (1990), and R. J. Sullivan (1996).

Moore, Clement Clarke, 1779-1863, American educator and poet, b. New York City, grad. Columbia, 1798. A biblical scholar, he was professor of Asian and Greek literature at the Episcopal General Theological Seminary, erected in New York City on land that he had donated. He is remembered for the well-known poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which begins " 'Twas the night before Christmas"; it was first published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel in 1823. Recent computer-aided scholarship has cast considerable doubt on Moore's authorship of the poem.

See biography by S. W. Patterson (1956); S. Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas (1996); D. Foster, Author Unknown (2000).

Moore, Douglas Stuart, 1893-1969, American composer and teacher, b. Cutchogue, N.Y. Moore studied with Horatio Parker, Vincent D'Indy, Nadia Boulanger, and Ernest Bloch. In 1926 he joined the music faculty of Columbia Univ. and was its chairman from 1940 to 1962. His major works include Pageant of P. T. Barnum (1924) and Moby Dick (1929) for orchestra; the operas for children The Headless Horseman (1937; libretto by Stephen Vincent Benét) and The Emperor's New Clothes (1949); the operas The Devil and Daniel Webster (1939), Giants in the Earth (1951; awarded a Pulitzer Prize), The Ballad of Baby Doe (1956); The Wings of the Dove (1961), and Carrie Nation (1966); two symphonies (1945, 1948); chamber music; and settings of poetry by Donne, MacLeish, Benét, and Vachel Lindsay. Moore's music is outstanding for its theatricality and use of the American vernacular. His prose works include Listening to Music (1932) and From Madrigal to Modern Music (1942).
Moore, Edward, 1712-57, English dramatist. He wrote two comedies in the sentimental tradition, The Foundling (1748) and Gil Blas (1751), but his reputation as a dramatist rests primarily on his prose tragedy The Gamester (1753).
Moore, George, 1852-1933, English author, b. Ireland. As a young man he lived in Paris, studying at various art schools. Inspired by Zola, Flaubert, Turgenev, and the 19th-century French realists, Moore turned to writing, publishing his first novel, A Modern Lover, in 1883. A Mummer's Wife (1885), in portraying the degradation of a woman through alcohol, introduced naturalism into the Victorian novel. Moore's most famous novel, Esther Waters (1894), poignantly relates the poverty and hardships valiantly endured by a religious girl. Included among his other works are the novels Confessions of a Young Man (1888), Evelyn Innes (1898), Sister Teresa (1901), The Brook Kerith (1916), and Héloise and Abelard (1921); and the volumes of short stories Celibates (1895) and The Untilled Field (1903), the latter reminiscent of Dostoevsky. About 1900, Moore returned to Ireland and became associated with William Butler Yeats, George Russell (A. E.), and others in the Irish literary renaissance. His famous three-volume semi-autobiographical work, Hail and Farewell (1911-14), is a highly entertaining account of his experiences in Ireland.

See his letters, ed. by H. E. Gerber (1968); biographies by S. L. Mitchell (1916), J. Hone (1936, repr. 1973), and A. Frazier (2000); studies by J. Egleson (1973), R. A. Cave (1978), J. E. Dunleavy, ed. (1983), and J. Egleson, ed. (1983).

Moore, George Edward, 1873-1958, English philosopher, b. Upper Norwood. He was educated at Cambridge, where he was a fellow (1898-1904) and then a lecturer (1911-25) in the department of moral sciences. He was professor of philosophy from 1925 until his retirement in 1939 as professor emeritus. He edited (1921-47) the journal Mind and was also visiting professor at various universities in the United States from 1940 to 1944. Moore's earliest writings were strongly influenced by the idealism of F. H. Bradley and the transcendental epistemology of Immanuel Kant, and ranged from idealism to realism. After 1903, however, with the publication of Principia Ethica and "The Refutation of Idealism," he became more interested in critical epistemology, i.e., in distinguishing between acts of consciousness and their possible objects, and between the ways in which we can be said to know and the things we can know. In Principia Ethica he argued that to define the concept of the good in terms of other concepts would involve the "naturalistic fallacy"—i.e., the fallacy of identifying the good with some physical or psychological quality such as pleasure or self-realization. The book was influential among members of the Bloomsbury group. Along with Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein he was concerned with the philosophical problems caused by the imprecisions of ordinary language, but he did not consider linguistic analysis the main interest of philosophy. He was also concerned with the distinction between a "sense datum" and a material thing, although he never defined the distinction to his own satisfaction. He defended common sense as a limited but not inadmissible criterion for certainty. Although Moore's philosophy provides no systematic doctrine, and indeed progresses toward fragmented and inconclusive investigations (he himself admitted he had not been "a good answerer of philosophical questions"), he provided closely reasoned investigations of questions important to modern philosophy, and added to an atmosphere of inquiry by his capacity to deal freshly with problems, always placing truth before consistency or the desire for an answer. His other writings include Ethics (1912), Philosophical Studies (1922), Some Main Problems of Philosophy (1953), and Commonplace Book, 1919-53 (ed. by Casimir Lewey, 1962). Moore's autobiography and "A Reply to My Critics" appear in The Philosophy of G. E. Moore (ed. by P. A. Schilpp, 3d ed. 1968).

See A. Ambrose, ed., G. E. Moore: Essays in Retrospect (1970); A. J. Ayer, Russell and Moore: The Analytical Heritage (1971).

Moore, George Foot, 1851-1931, American biblical scholar, b. West Chester, Pa. In 1878 he was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry. He was professor of Hebrew (1883-1902) at Andover Theological Seminary and professor of theology (1902-4) and of religious history (1904-28) at Harvard. An eminent Asian scholar and a noted teacher, he wrote a number of books, including The Literature of the Old Testament (1913), History of Religions (Vol. I, 1913; Vol. II, 1919), Metempsychosis (1914), and Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era (1927).
Moore, Henry, 1898-1986, English sculptor. Moore's early sculpture was angular and rough, strongly influenced by pre-Columbian art. About 1928 he evolved a more personal style which has gained him an international reputation. His works, in wood, stone, and cement (done without clay models), are characterized by their smooth, organic shape and often include empty hollows, which he showed to have as meaningful a shape as solid mass. During World War II, when materials for carving were scarce, he was commissioned by the government to do a series of drawings of the London underground bomb shelters (1940). His favorite sculptural subjects were the mother and child and the reclining figure. Moore executed an abstract screen and a reclining figure for the Time-Life Building in London (1952-53), a bronze group for Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts in New York City (1962-65), and a monument for the Univ. of Chicago (1964-66). In the Art Gallery of Toronto, a gallery is dedicated entirely to his works.

See his autobiography, ed. by J. Hedgecoe (1968); a collection of his writings, ed. by P. James (1967); biography by R. Berthond (1987); studies by E. Neumann (1984) and A. Bowness (1986).

Moore, John Bassett, 1860-1947, American authority on international law, b. Smyrna, Del. He was admitted to the Delaware bar in 1883. He was (1885-86) a law clerk in the Dept. of State and was (1886-91) an Assistant Secretary of State before becoming (1891-1924) a professor at Columbia. He represented the United States on several important international commissions. He was (1912-38) on the panel of the Hague Tribunal and was (1921-28) the first American judge on the World Court (the Permanent Court of International Justice). Moore believed that the system of alliances that grew up after World War I threatened to make every conflict worldwide and that maintaining neutrality would tend to localize wars. His History and Digest of International Arbitrations (6 vol., 1898), Digest of International Law (8 vol., 1906), and International Adjudications, Ancient and Modern (8 vol., 1937) are standard compilations. His other books include American Diplomacy (1905), Four Phases of American Development (1912), International Law and Some Current Illusions (1924), The Permanent Court of International Justice (1924), and Collected Papers (7 vol., 1945). He also edited the works of James Buchanan (12 vol., 1909-11).
Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972, American poet, b. St. Louis, grad. Bryn Mawr College, 1909. She lived mostly in New York City, working first as a librarian and later as acting editor of the Dial (1925-29). Her poetry, constructed like a precise mosaic, is witty, intellectual, and often satirical. Volumes of her verse include Poems (1921), Observations (1924), What Are Years? (1941), Collected Poems (1951; Pulitzer Prize), O to Be a Dragon (1959), and Complete Poems (1967). Among her other works are the translation The Fables of La Fontaine (1954) and the essays Predilections (1955).

See her complete poems (1967, repr. 1982); Selected Letters ed. by B. Costello (1997); studies by G. W. Nitchie (1969), B. Costello (1981), M. Holley (1988), and C. Goodridge (1989).

Moore, Mary Tyler, 1936-, American actress, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Although she began her career as a dancer, Moore's success came on with television, first as the secretary on "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" (1959), then as the costar of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961-66), and finally with "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-77), the first to center on an unmarried and happy career woman. In 1970, with her then husband Grant Tinker, she formed MTM productions, which produced other successful television comedies. She appeared on Broadway in Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1980) and in the film Ordinary People (1980).

See her autobiography, After All (1995).

Moore, Michael, 1954-, American documentary filmmaker, author, and sociopolitical activist, b. Flint, Mich. After working as an alternative print and radio journalist, he embarked on a career as a highly personal, populist, frequently polarizing, and increasingly controversial documentary filmmaker. Appalled by his native city's economic decline as a result of downsizing and closings by General Motors, he made Roger & Me (1989), a satirical journey in which he unsuccessfully tries to meet with GM's chairman. His next major work, Bowling for Columbine (2002; Academy Award), is a scathing look at America's gun culture. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), his most controversial and financially successful film to date, is an angry critique of the Bush administration's handling of post-9/11 events and Iraq. His next documentary, Sicko (2007), an indictment of the American healthcare industry, focuses on the ways private insurance companies, primarily HMOs, deny appropriate care to subscribers. His film Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) is a scorching attack on the contemporary free-market system that explores and deplores corporate dominance of American society and its disastrous effects on the lives of ordinary citizens. Moore also has produced television programs combining news and satire and written several provocative books, e.g., Downsize This! (1996), Stupid White Men (2001), and Dude, Where's My Country? (2003).

See K. Lawrence, ed., The World according to Michael Moore (2004).

Moore, Stanford, 1913-82, American biochemist, b. Chicago, Ph.D. Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, 1938. Moore joined the faculty at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller Univ.) in New York in 1939 and remained there until his death in 1982. He received the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Christian Anfinsen and William Stein for their work on the enzyme ribonuclease, which catalyzes the hydrolysis of RNA into smaller components. Moore and Stein are credited with describing in detail the chemical structure of catalytically active sites on the enzyme and their relation to the enzyme's biological activity.
Moore, Thomas, 1779-1852, Irish poet, b. Dublin. He achieved prominence in his day not only for his poetry but also for his love of Ireland and personal charm. A lawyer, he was for a time registrar of the admiralty court in Bermuda. He is remembered today for Irish Melodies, a group of lyrics published between 1808 and 1834 and set to music by Sir John Stevenson and others; the songs include several of lasting fame, such as "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms," "Oft in the Stilly Night," and "The Harp That Once through Tara's Halls." His amusing satires, Intercepted Letters; or, The Two-Penny Post Bag (1813) and The Fudge Family in Paris (1818), were widely read, and the long poem Lalla Rookh (1817), a lush romance of India and the Middle East, was one of the most popular poems of his day. Byron, who was his friend, left him his memoirs, which Moore later—on the advice of Byron's executor and friends—destroyed. His biography of Byron appeared in 1830 and is among his best prose works.

See biography by H. J. Jordan (2 vol., 1975); study by T. Tessier and J. Hogg (1981).

Moore, Thomas Sturge, 1870-1944, English author. Although his themes were classical and conservative, his poetic technique was innovative. His first volume of poetry, The Vinedresser, appeared in 1899. Later works in verse include Absalam (1903) and Mystery and Tragedy (1930). He wrote several books on art, such as Albrecht Dürer (1905) and Art and Life (1910), and was a wood engraver, especially noted for his bookplate designs.

See his poetical works (4 vol., 1931-33); his correspondence with W. B. Yeats, ed. by U. Bridge (1953); biography by F. L. Gwynn (1951).

Moore, city (1990 pop. 40,761), Cleveland co., central Okla., a suburb of Oklahoma City; inc. 1887. Its manufactures include lightning- and surge-protection equipment, packaging for foods, and auto parts.

Moore's law describes an important trend in the history of computer hardware. Since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. The trend was first observed by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore in a 1965 paper. It has continued for almost half of a century and is not expected to stop for another decade at least and perhaps much longer.

Almost every measure of the capabilities of digital electronic devices is linked to Moore's law: processing speed, memory capacity, even the number and size of pixels in digital cameras. All of these are improving at (roughly) exponential rates as well. This has dramatically increased the usefulness of digital electronics in nearly every segment of the world economy. Moore's law describes this driving force of technological and social change in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.


A few people had predicted similar increases in computer power years before Moore published his observation. Alan Turing in a 1950 paper had predicted that by the turn of the century we would have computers with a billion words of memory. Moore may have heard Douglas Engelbart, a co-inventor of today's mechanical computer mouse, discuss the projected downscaling of integrated circuit size in a 1960 lecture.

Moore's original statement that transistor counts had doubled every year can be found in his publication "Cramming more components onto integrated circuits", Electronics Magazine 19 April, 1965:

The term "Moore's law" was coined around 1970 by the Caltech professor, VLSI pioneer, and entrepreneur Carver Mead.

In 1975, Moore altered his projection to a doubling every two years. Despite popular misconception, he is adamant that he did not predict a doubling "every 18 months". However, an Intel colleague had factored in the increasing performance of transistors to conclude that integrated circuits would double in performance every 18 months.

In April 2005, Intel offered $10,000 to purchase a copy of the original Electronics Magazine. David Clark, an engineer living in the UK, was the first to find a copy and offer it to Intel.

Other formulations and similar laws

Several measures of digital technology are improving at exponential rates related to Moore's law, including the size, cost, density and speed of components. Moore himself wrote only about the density of components (or transistors) at minimum cost. He noted: Transistors per integrated circuit. The most popular formulation is of the doubling of the number of transistors on integrated circuits every two years. At the end of the 1970s, Moore's law became known as the limit for the number of transistors on the most complex chips. Recent trends show that this rate has been maintained into 2007.

Density at minimum cost per transistor. This is the formulation given in Moore's 1965 paper. It is not about just the density of transistors that can be achieved, but about the density of transistors at which the cost per transistor is the lowest. As more transistors are put on a chip, the cost to make each transistor decreases, but the chance that the chip will not work due to a defect increases. In 1965, Moore examined the density of transistors at which cost is minimized, and observed that, as transistors were made smaller through advances in photolithography, this number would increase at "a rate of roughly a factor of two per year".

Cost per transistor. As the size of transistors has decreased, the cost per transistor has decreased as well. However, the manufacturing cost per unit area has only increased over time, since materials and energy expenditures per unit area have only increased with each successive technology node.

Computing performance per unit cost. Also, as the size of transistors shrinks, the speed at which they operate increases. It is also common to cite Moore's law to refer to the rapidly continuing advance in computing performance per unit cost, because increase in transistor count is also a rough measure of computer processing performance. On this basis, the performance of computers per unit cost—or more colloquially, "bang per buck"—doubles every 24 months.

Power consumption. the power consumption of compute nodes doubles every 18 months.

Hard disk storage cost per unit of information. A similar law (sometimes called Kryder's Law) has held for hard disk storage cost per unit of information. The rate of progression in disk storage over the past decades has actually sped up more than once, corresponding to the utilization of error correcting codes, the magnetoresistive effect and the giant magnetoresistive effect. The current rate of increase in hard drive capacity is roughly similar to the rate of increase in transistor count. Recent trends show that this rate has been maintained into 2007.

RAM storage capacity. Another version states that RAM storage capacity increases at the same rate as processing power.

Network capacity According to Gerry/Gerald Butters, the former head of Lucent's Optical Networking Group at Bell Labs, there is another version, called Butter's Law of Photonics, a formulation which deliberately parallels Moore's law. Butter's law says that the amount of data coming out of an optical fiber is doubling every nine months. Thus, the cost of transmitting a bit over an optical network decreases by half every nine months. The availability of wavelength-division multiplexing (sometimes called "WDM") increased the capacity that could be placed on a single fiber by as much as a factor of 100. Optical networking and DWDM is rapidly bringing down the cost of networking, and further progress seems assured. As a result, the wholesale price of data traffic collapsed in the dot-com bubble. Nielsen's Law says that the bandwidth available to users increases by 50% annually.

Pixels per dollar. Similarly, Barry Hendy of Kodak Australia has plotted the "pixels per dollar" as a basic measure of value for a digital camera, demonstrating the historical linearity (on a log scale) of this market and the opportunity to predict the future trend of digital camera price and resolution.

Moore's law as a target for industry and a self-fulfilling prophecy

Although Moore's law was initially made in the form of an observation and forecast, the more widely it became accepted, the more it served as a goal for an entire industry. This drove both marketing and engineering departments of semiconductor manufacturers to focus enormous energy aiming for the specified increase in processing power that it was presumed one or more of their competitors would soon actually attain. In this regard, it can be viewed as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Manufacturing costs and Moore's second law

As the cost of computer power to the consumer falls, the cost for producers to fulfill Moore's law follows an opposite trend: R&D, manufacturing, and test costs have increased steadily with each new generation of chips. Rising manufacturing costs are an important consideration for the sustaining of Moore's law. This had led to the formulation of "Moore's second law," which is that the capital cost of a semiconductor fab also increases exponentially over time.

Materials required for advancing technology (e.g., photoresists and other polymers and industrial chemicals) are derived from natural resources such as petroleum and so are affected by the cost and supply of these resources. Nevertheless, photoresist costs are coming down through more efficient delivery, though shortage risks remain.

The cost to tape-out a chip at 90 nm is at least US$1,000,000, and exceeds US$3,000,000 for 65 nm.

Future trends

Computer industry technology "road maps' predict (as of 2001) that Moore's law will continue for several chip generations. Depending on the doubling time used in the calculations, this could mean up to a hundredfold increase in transistor count per chip within a decade. The semiconductor industry technology roadmap uses a three-year doubling time for microprocessors, leading to a tenfold increase in the next decade. Intel was reported in 2005 as stating that the downsizing of silicon chips with good economics can continue during the next decade and in 2008 as predicting the trend through 2029.

Some of the new directions in research that may allow Moore's law to continue are:

  • Intel's prediction of increasing use of materials other than silicon was verified in mid-2006, as was its intent of using trigate transistors from around 2009 .
  • Researchers from IBM and Georgia Tech created a new speed record when they ran a silicon/germanium helium supercooled transistor at 500 gigahertz (GHz). The transistor operated above 500 GHz at 4.5 K (−451°F/−268.65°C) and simulations showed that it could likely run at 1 THz (1,000 GHz). This trial only tested a single transistor, however. Practical desktop CPUs running at this speed are extremely unlikely using contemporary silicon chip techniques .
  • In early 2006, IBM researchers announced that they had developed a technique to print circuitry only 29.9 nm wide using deep-ultraviolet (DUV, 193-nanometer) optical lithography. IBM claims that this technique may allow chipmakers to use current methods for seven years while continuing to achieve results forecast by Moore's law. New methods that can achieve smaller circuits are expected to be substantially more expensive.
  • On January 27, 2007, Intel demonstrated a working 45nm chip codenamed "Penryn", intending mass production to begin in late 2007. A decade before then, chips were built using a 350 nm process.
  • In April 2008, researchers at HP Labs announced the creation of a working "memristor": a fourth basic passive circuit element whose existence had previously only been theorized. The memristor's unique properties allow for the creation of smaller and better-performing electronic devices. This memristor bears some resemblance to resistive memory (CBRAM or RRAM) developed independently and recently by other groups for non-volatile memory applications.
  • Companies are working on using nanotechnology to solve the complex engineering problems involved in producing chips at the 32 nm and smaller levels. (The diameter of a silicon atom is on the order of 0.2 nm.)
  • Aside from nanotechnology, other technological branches such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry, quantum mechanics and/ or optics might provide devices replacing or improving transistors in the future.
  • Three-dimensional transistors and/ or processors, fuzzy logic, distributed computing, new processor designs, offload of workload on external units and multicore design might change the relevance of Moore's Law for the common objective (i.e. processing power).

While this time horizon for Moore's law scaling is possible, it does not come without underlying engineering challenges. One of the major challenges in integrated circuits that use nanoscale transistors is increase in parameter variation and leakage currents. As a result of variation and leakage, the design margins available to do predictive design are becoming harder. Such systems also dissipate considerable power even when not switching. Adaptive and statistical design along with leakage power reduction is critical to sustain scaling of CMOS. A good treatment of these topics is covered in Leakage in Nanometer CMOS Technologies Other scaling challenges include:

  1. The ability to control parasitic resistance and capacitance in transistors,
  2. The ability to reduce resistance and capacitance in electrical interconnects,
  3. The ability to maintain proper transistor electrostatics to allow the gate terminal to control the ON/OFF behavior,
  4. Increasing effect of line edge roughness,
  5. Dopant fluctuations,
  6. System level power delivery,
  7. Thermal design to effectively handle the dissipation of delivered power, and
  8. Solving all these challenges at an ever-reducing manufacturing cost of the overall system.

Ultimate limits of the law

On April 13, 2005, Gordon Moore stated in an interview that the law cannot be sustained indefinitely: "It can't continue forever. The nature of exponentials is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens" and noted that transistors would eventually reach the limits of miniaturization at atomic levels:

In 1995, the "powerful" Digital Alpha 21164 chip had just over nine million transistors. This 64-bit processor was a technological spearhead at the time, even if the circuit’s market share remained average. Six years later, a state of the art microprocessor would have more than 40 million transistors. In 2015, it is believed that these processors should contain more than 15 billion transistors. Things are becoming smaller each year. If this continues, in theory, in less than 10 years computers will be created where each molecule will have its own place, i.e. we will have completely entered the era of molecular scale production.

Others see the limits of the law as being far in the distant future. Lawrence Krauss and Glenn D. Starkman announced an ultimate limit of around 600 years in their paper "Universal Limits of Computation", based on rigorous estimation of total information-processing capacity of any system in the Universe.

Then again, the law has often met obstacles that appeared insurmountable, before long surmounting them. In that sense, Moore says he now sees his law as more beautiful than he had realized: "Moore's law is a violation of Murphy's law. Everything gets better and better.

Futurists and Moore's law

Extrapolation partly based on Moore's law has led futurists such as Vernor Vinge, Bruce Sterling, and Ray Kurzweil to speculate about a technological singularity. Kurzweil projects that a continuation of Moore's law until 2019 will result in transistor features just a few atoms in width. Although this means that the strategy of ever finer photolithography will have run its course, he speculates that this does not mean the end of Moore's law:

Thus, Kurzweil conjectures that it is likely that some new type of technology will replace current integrated-circuit technology, and that Moore's Law will hold true long after 2020. He believes that the exponential growth of Moore's law will continue beyond the use of integrated circuits into technologies that will lead to the technological singularity. The Law of Accelerating Returns described by Ray Kurzweil has in many ways altered the public's perception of Moore's Law. It is a common (but mistaken) belief that Moore's Law makes predictions regarding all forms of technology, when it actually only concerns semiconductor circuits. Many futurists still use the term "Moore's law" in this broader sense to describe ideas like those put forth by Kurzweil.

Software: breaking the law

A sometimes misunderstood point is that exponentially improved hardware does not necessarily imply exponentially improved software performance to go with it. The productivity of software developers most assuredly does not increase exponentially with the improvement in hardware, but by most measures has increased only slowly and fitfully over the decades. Software tends to get larger and more complicated over time, and Wirth's law even states humorously that "Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster".

There are problems where exponential increases in processing power are matched or exceeded by exponential increases in complexity as the problem size increases. (See computational complexity theory and complexity classes P and NP for a somewhat theoretical discussion of such problems, which occur very commonly in applications such as scheduling.)

Due to the mathematical power of exponential growth (similar to the financial power of compound interest), seemingly minor fluctuations in the relative growth rates of CPU performance, RAM capacity, and disk space per dollar have caused the relative costs of these three fundamental computing resources to shift markedly over the years, which in turn has caused significant changes in programming styles. For many programming problems, the developer has to decide on numerous time-space tradeoffs, and throughout the history of computing these choices have been strongly influenced by the shifting relative costs of CPU cycles versus storage space.

In addition to processor-usage/storage-space trade-offs, there is often a correlation between development time, application complexity, and application performance. One example of this would be the sorting algorithm insertion sort when compared to the quicksort algorithm. While an insertion sort is one of the easiest and least complex sorting algorithms to implement, it is also somewhat slow for large numbers of data. As processor performance increases, programmers may decide to implement slower and less complex algorithms in favor of a shorter development time.

Other considerations

Not all aspects of computing technology develop in capacities and speed according to Moore's law. Random Access Memory (RAM) speeds and hard drive seek times improve at best a few percentage points each year. Since the capacity of RAM and hard drives is increasing much faster than is their access speed, intelligent use of their capacity becomes more and more important. It now makes sense in many cases to trade space for time, such as by precomputing indexes and storing them in ways that facilitate rapid access, at the cost of using more disk and memory space: space is getting cheaper relative to time.

Moreover, there is a popular misconception that the clock speed of a processor determines its speed, also known as the Megahertz Myth. This actually also depends on the number of instructions per tick which can be executed (as well as the complexity of each instruction, see MIPS, RISC and CISC), and so the clock speed can only be used for comparison between two identical circuits. Of course, other factors must be taken into consideration such as the bus width and speed of the peripherals. Therefore, most popular evaluations of "computer speed" are inherently biased, without an understanding of the underlying technology. This was especially true during the Pentium era when popular manufacturers played with public perceptions of speed, focusing on advertising the clock rate of new products.

Another popular misconception circulating Moore's law is the incorrect assumption that exponential processor transistor growth, as predicted by Moore, translates directly into proportional exponential increase processing power or processing speed. While the increase of transistors in processors usually have an increased effect on processing power or speed, the relationship between the two factors is not proportional. There are cases where a ~45% increase in processor transistors have translated to roughly 10-20% increase in processing power or speed. Different processor families have different performance increases when transistor count is increased. More precisely, processor performance or power is more related to other factors such as microarchitecture, and clock speed within the same processor family. That is to say, processor performance can increase without increasing the number of transistors in a processor. (AMD64 processors had better overall performance compared to the late Pentium 4 series, which had more transistors).

It is also important to note that transistor density in multi-core CPUs does not necessarily reflect a similar increase in practical computing power, due to the unparallelised nature of most applications.

See also

References and notes

Further reading

Understanding Moore's Law: Four Decades of Innovation. Edited by David C. Brock. x + 122 pp. Chemical Heritage Press, 2006. $12.50. Review at American Scientist

External links




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