The Status of Moore's Law: It's Complicated

Node names—the milestones of the chip industry—no longer mean what they used to

10 min read
The Status of Moore's Law: It's Complicated
Illustration: Harry Campbell

One chilly Tuesday evening last December, dozens of physicists and engineers who dream up tomorrow’s transistors met in San Francisco to ponder the far future. Would today’s state-of-the-art switch—a three-dimensional transistor dubbed the FinFET—be able to carry chips “to the finish,” a distant, possibly unreachable horizon where transistors are made up of just a handful of atoms? Or would we need a new technology to get us there?

This may all sound like the tech world’s version of arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but it actually has enormous real-world implications. The semiconductor industry pulled in revenues of US $300 billion in 2012. After decades of fulfilling Gordon Moore’s prophesy of steadily doubling transistor densities (these days every 18 to 24 months), the industry is now delivering integrated circuits with transistors that are made using what chipmakers call a 20- or 22-nanometer manufacturing process. An IC fabricated with this process, such as a microprocessor or a dynamic RAM (DRAM) chip, can have billions of transistors.

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

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New AI Speeds Computer Graphics by Up to 5x

Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.


On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

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Fourth Generation Digitizers With Easy-to-Use API

Learn about the latest generation high-performance data acquisition boards from Teledyne

1 min read

In this webinar, we explain the design principles and operation of our fourth-generation digitizers with a focus on the application programming interface (API).

Register now for this free webinar!

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