Friday, April 27, 2007

Change is about density, not acceleration

From an article about Moore's Law
'Moore's Law is frequently misquoted, and frequently misrepresented,' noted [Brian] Gammage. While most people believe it means that you double the speed and the power of processors every 18 to 24 months, that notion is in fact wrong, Gammage said. 'Moore's Law is all about … the density of … transistors, and not what we choose to do with [them].'

The actual law—which didn't morph into a governing mandate until [Carver] Mead described it as such—was first summarized by a young Gordon Moore in an issue of Electronics Magazine in 1965, who said:

'The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year. … Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. That means by 1975, the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost will be 65,000. I believe that such a large circuit can be built on a single wafer.'
The notion that what increases is density is more general than Moore's Law. We frequently talk about accelerating rates of change. I don't believe that's true. Change can't happen faster than people can invent. And we are doing that as fast as we can. What can accelerate is the density of change. More and more areas of our lives are subject to change, which makes it feel like change is occurring faster and faster.

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