Intel’s CEO says Moore’s Law is slowing to a three-year cadence, but it’s not dead yet

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has acknowledged the deceleration of Moore’s Law, noting that transistors now double in approximately three years, a departure from the traditional two-year cadence outlined by the law. Speaking at Manufacturing@MIT, Gelsinger addressed the industry’s challenge in maintaining the pace set by Moore’s Law since its inception in 1970, where it was posited that transistor counts on chips would double every two years.

While acknowledging the apparent slowing down of Moore’s Law, Gelsinger remains optimistic, emphasizing that the iconic principle is “alive and well.” Since assuming the role of CEO in 2021, he has been a staunch advocate of Intel surpassing Moore’s Law, even introducing the concept of “Super Moore’s Law” or “Moore’s Law 2.0.” This strategy involves leveraging 2.5D and 3D chip packaging technologies, such as Foveros, to enhance transistor counts.

During his MIT talk, Gelsinger addressed concerns about the potential demise of Moore’s Law, stating, “I think we’ve been declaring the death of Moore’s Law for about three to four decades.” Despite acknowledging a slowing trend, he clarified that the context of his statement primarily referred to the challenges in process technology, where newer nodes have shown weaker density improvements and longer development times, notably in Intel’s Intel 7 and Intel 4 nodes.

To support his optimistic outlook, Gelsinger outlined key elements that could facilitate the creation of a 1-trillion transistor chip by 2030. These include new RibbonFET transistors, PowerVIA power delivery, advancements in process nodes, and 3D chip stacking. Gelsinger concluded by addressing critics, stating, “For all of the critics that declare we’re dead… until the periodic table is exhausted, we ain’t finished.”

However, he candidly acknowledged that the economic aspect of Moore’s Law is facing challenges, noting a shift in the cost dynamics of fabrication facilities. Gelsinger highlighted the increase in costs from $10 billion to $20 billion over the past seven to eight years, indicating a transformation in the economic landscape of semiconductor manufacturing.

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