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The whole semiconductor industry has been developing in accordance with the Moore’s law for nearly fifty years now. A number of companies claim that the necessity for higher performance, power efficiency and communication capabilities inside modern chips will make Moore’s law relevant for a long time. However, Advanced Micro Devices believes that the end of the law is already on horizon as new process technologies do not always maximize economic efficiency these days.

“You can see how Moore's Law is slowing down. The original statement of Moore's Law is the number of transistors that is more economical to produce will double every two years. It has become warped into all these other forms but that is what he originally said,” said John Gustafson, chief graphics product architect at AMD, in an interview with The Inquirer web-site.

Traditionally, both vertically integrated makers of semiconductors as well as contract makers of semiconductors, introduced new process technologies every 18 to 24 months. In the recent years the cadence changed a bit since development of new manufacturing processes and building new fabs became extremely expensive; Intel Corp. keeps introducing new fabrication processes every two years and new product families every year proving the financial viability of Moore's law. The world's biggest chipmaker believes that the new process technologies enable it to integrate more functionality into chips while keeping their prices relatively flat.

However, Intel is among a few companies who produce so large amounts of chips that it can cover development costs. For many companies every transition to a new node costs tens, if not hundreds, millions of dollars. As a result, the difference between actual manufacturing costs becomes less important for many chips. Therefore, AMD believes that it should closely balance the transistor density of its chips so that to maximize economic effects of new manufacturing technologies. Essentially, this results into longer life-cycle of every process technology.

“We [AMD] want to also look for the sweet spot, because if you print too few transistors your chip will cost too much per transistor and if you put too many it will cost too much per transistor. We have been waiting for that transistion from 28nm to 20nm to happen and it is taking longer than Moore's Law would have predicted," said Mr. Gustafson.

The longer life-cycles for process technology nodes effectively means the end of the Moore’s law.

"I am saying you are seeing the beginning of the end of Moore's law," said Mr. Gustafson.

Other players on the market of semiconductors believe that the Moore’s law will continue to drive the industry as the demand for performance of mobile chips and microprocessors to power supercomputers will require increase of transistor counts without increase of power consumption. Moreover, modern system-on-chips are rapidly gaining functionality and are about to start adding all-digital radios in the coming years.

Tags: AMD, Semiconductor, 28nm, 20nm, Moore's Law, Intel, ARM, Globalfoundries, TSMC

Discussion

Comments currently: 10
Discussion started: 04/04/13 04:43:00 AM
Latest comment: 04/05/13 07:57:42 PM
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1. 
That's funny. AMD is digging themselves even more in the dirt. A couple of months ago I've read somewhere about Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, and some other companies already producing prototype processors using 14 and even 12nm, while cutting the power more than half way...Maybe Moore's law doesn't apply for AMD anymore. I didn't hear any complains from Intel for example...
3 5 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 04/04/13 04:43:00 AM]
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Read the article again carefully to understand it. It states that the cost associated with transistors is no longer following Moore's Law for the decreasingly small nodes of today - a diminishing return where curve x meets curve y. This does not only affect AMD.
3 3 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 04/04/13 07:25:32 AM]
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while it's AMD saying it, in this case it looks to be accurate, Intel despite the many revisions of Sandy hasn't been accomplishing much for quite a while... you could even go back to C2D and say the same, IPC hasn't improved significantly, clock rates are still stuck, power consumption has been incrementally reducing to little overall benefit, 3d chips didn't help hardly at all, die shrinks haven't changed the end result significantly, exponentially more work for little gain.
5 3 [Posted by: clone  | Date: 04/04/13 09:22:27 AM]
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Except Moore's Law doesn't say anything about clock speeds, performance or power consumption. It's all about transistor counts.

Not Moore's fault that Intel has been choosing to spend the extra transistor budget on integrating the Memory controller, IGP, PCIe controller, and with Haswell, VRMs onto the CPU.
3 0 [Posted by: jihadjoe  | Date: 04/04/13 01:53:55 PM]
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2. 
show the post
2 5 [Posted by: snakefist  | Date: 04/04/13 04:57:57 AM]
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3. 
And soon, physical limitations will start becoming problematic as well.
6 2 [Posted by: DIREWOLF75  | Date: 04/04/13 08:18:25 AM]
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4. 
Physical limitations already make troubles. Ivy Bridge cooling is a one of more visible examples for all of us...But it is only one of all. ?lectricity leakage grow up fast...
2 1 [Posted by: Anton Markov  | Date: 04/04/13 12:48:22 PM]
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Of course. I mean more "drastically" problematic so to speak. With a fair potential for an actual wall preventing further die shrinks.
0 0 [Posted by: DIREWOLF75  | Date: 04/05/13 07:57:42 PM]
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5. 
I read that at the next process node (20 or 14, I don't remember), layers are only 5 atoms thick. So this discussion appears soon to be moot. With such thin features, any remaining improvements would seem minimal.
0 1 [Posted by: guyr  | Date: 04/04/13 09:56:45 PM]
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6. 
I reckon AMD will stick with 28nm manufacturing for some time know, i reckon for 2 years.

and thats not bad thing, it will keep prices low for there chips, and remember that if phenoms x6 was build with 45nm, then 28nm will surely provide us with good price/performance.

The trick is AMD (and other ppl as well) needs second try in 28nm to master it, the more you work stay using 28nm the more your fab units master it, and you can create wonders using it. thank AMD HD 7000 and 8000, and bulldozer and pile diver.
1 0 [Posted by: medo  | Date: 04/05/13 11:07:03 AM]
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