Moore’s Law celebrates the big 5-0 this week. It’s been half a century since Gordon Moore observed that the amount of transistors that can be placed on a computer chip would double every two years. Put a different way, this ‘law’ predicted that electronic devices could shrink over the years due to computer chips being able to store more memory and having greater processing power. As a technology PR agency, we thought that this was a key time to reflect on the development of the personal computer, and whether or not Moore was right.
Before the advent of the computer chip, the main component of a computer was the valve which made it so big that most of us wouldn’t have been able to fit it in our house. Then in the 1950s the transistor replaced the valve. This was later succeeded by the computer chip in the 1960s which could host several transistors; a breakthrough which paved the way to how computers process today. By 1970, a computer chip could host 1000 transistors. Now, hundreds of millions of components can be placed onto a cm² of a computer chip. Not only can a computing device fit in our homes, but we can also carry it around in our pockets and on our wrists.
For some time, experts have predicted the end of Moore’s Law. This is because computer chips may have reached the physical limit to how much can be placed on them. But thanks to technological innovations, Moore’s Law could be alive and kicking for years. Our nearby city has been among those helping it live on, as the University of Manchester carried out a study suggesting that transistors on computer chips could be made out of graphene. But they’d need to alter graphene to make it suit this function, as its current form wouldn’t allow it.
So we’ve seen that Moore’s Law may have been pretty accurate. Just when we think it can’t be exceeded, scientists make a breakthrough that could help it continue for years to come.
Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.