Pondering Life After Moore's Law.

Author:Magnuson, Stew
Position::Editor's Notes

Gordon E. Moore, founder of Fairchild Electronics, wrote his influential article, "Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits"--which gave the world "Moore's Law"--in the April 1965 issue of Electronics Magazine.

The integrated circuit, he wrote, "will lead to such wonders as home computers, ... automatic controls for automobiles and personal portable communications equipment."

Prescient, to say the least.

His theory that integrated circuits would double in capacity every 18 months to two years was soon proven to be a law. His charts showed this playing out until 1975, but in fact, the law has for the most part stayed on course until today.

By the end of the article, Moore was already speculating what would come after these chips had reached their full capacity.

That day is soon approaching. The end of Moore's Law was a major topic of conversation at a packed Science and Engineering Technology conference in Austin, Texas. That, and China.

"I do not want everything in my house that is running on microelectronics to have a link into some Chinese capability," Mary Miller, who is performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering, said at the National Defense Industrial Association conference.

Chinese leaders have explicitly expressed a goal to dominate the microelectronics market by 2030. They are investing $150 billion into the campaign and will build 26 high-tech manufacturing facilities, she noted.

"They are committed. They haven't wavered from that commitment. And their goal is to be the single source of microelectronics around the world. ... If they become the sole provider, you don't have competition and that's not good," Miller said.

And as Miller said, there is the trust factor. No one trusts the Chinese government to ensure safe and secure microchips when it has been robbing Western companies blind of their intellectual property for years.

Jeff Eggers, mission assurance executive at the National Reconnaissance Office, said on a panel devoted to microelectronics, "There are millions of lines of code embedded in chips today. How do we know there isn't malicious code embedded in chips?"

Dick Urban, special assistant to the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, said China currently has to get all its integrated circuits from other places while at the same time it is the biggest exporter of electronic products.

To create its indigenous microchip manufacturing industrial...

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