If a VW Beetle had improved like Moore’s Law .. today it would travel 300,000 mph, at 2 million mpg, and cost 4 cents.

May 20, 2015

Think about Moore’s Law.

Intel’s chips have improved performance a factor of 3,500 since they were introduced, he said, reflecting a 90,000-times improvement in energy efficiency and at one-60,000th of the cost.

Were a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle to undergo the same transformation, he said, it would travel at 300,000 miles per hour, achieve 2 million miles per gallon, and cost four cents.

That was how Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, opened an evening to celebrate 50 years since Gordon Moore articulated his “law”, and seeking to put it into perspective.

At the age of 86, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore is still very much around to remind people of the scientific and commercial breakthrough he made 50 years ago when he explained to the technical community how semiconductors would develop.

Moore’s Law began as a technical article in an electronics-industry trade publication. Moore, while still at Fairchild Semiconductor, posited that the number of transistors on a semiconductor would continue to double every year, a figure he revised to every two years. Moore noted that his prediction, which he had no idea would be “relatively precise,” was an economic observation as much as a scientific one. It took considerable engineering effort, by Intel and others, to make his “law” come true.

Moore also said he tried to get out of the prediction business as quickly as he got into it. “Once you’ve made a successful prediction you avoid making another one,” he said.

Moore’s Law became a guiding light for an industry. His original article also envisioned a future for cheaper, more powerful semiconductors. He envisioned PCs, cell phones, self-driving cars, and electronic wristwatches—all powered by ever-improving chips.

Moore himself didn’t coin the expression Moore’s Law, and he avoided it for decades. “For the first 20 years I couldn’t utter the words Moore’s Law,” he said. “It was embarrassing.” Over time he relented and embraced his accomplishment. Asked by Friedman if he knew which Google search would elicit more responses, Moore’s Law or Murphy’s Law, Moore responded that Moore’s Law would win hands down.

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