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Forty Years of Moore's Law

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the it's-only-a-suggestion dept.

Intel 225

kjh1 writes "CNET is running a great article on how the past 40 years of integrated chip design and growth has followed [Gordon] Moore's law. The article also discusses how long Moore's law may remain pertinent, as well as new technologies like carbon nanotube transistors, silicon nanowire transistors, molecular crossbars, phase change materials and spintronics. My favorite data point has to be this: in 1965, chips contained about 60 distinct devices; Intel's latest Itanium chip has 1.7 billion transistors!"

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Keeping Count (5, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149170)

Intel's latest Itanium chip has 1.7 billion transistors!"

That's Montecito dual core Itanium, w/24MB of cache (only about 120 million transistors actually per CPU with the balance largely that motherlode of cache) and you could probably fry a steak on.

"We can keep Moore's Law alive just by stuffing the cache!"
"Brilliant!"
"Brilliant!"
Suddenly they were crushed by a giant can of Guinness containing not even an electronic sausage...

Re:Keeping Count (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149191)

"We can keep Moore's Law alive just by stuffing the cache!"

If it actually works, then there's little to complain about. Unfortunately, I don't think that things are quite so easy...

Re:Keeping Count (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149295)

Moore's law was about transistors, not computing power like it has commonly been misinterpreted as. I feel that using the phrase "stuffing the cache" is somehow implying that using the transistors for cache is somehow cheating. It is not cheating in any way shape or form. Moore's law is about transistors, regardless of how you use them.

Re:Keeping Count (2, Interesting)

Ruediger (777619) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149216)

I still find amazing that they managed to fit 1.7 billion transitors in a chip.

Re:Keeping Count (4, Funny)

rayde (738949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149320)

they are just very, very small. ;)

Re:Keeping Count (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149354)

I still find amazing that they managed to fit 1.7 billion transitors in a chip.

they are just very, very small. ;)

Actually they're rather large, but cleverly Intel have found a way to story them in an alternate universe using Portable Blackhole Technology(TM). Cross your fingers and hope nobody in that alternate universe stumbles across them.

Re:Keeping Count (1)

kabz (770151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149668)

All of this talk about shrinkage is making me nervous ...

Re:Keeping Count (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149351)

They left out one of the s's in transistor to get all of them to fit.

Re:Keeping Count (1)

CmdrTostado (653672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149235)

you could probably fry a steak on

the chip consumes 23 percent less power than the single core version: 100W to 130W, the chip maker said.

I wouldn't want to try to fry a steak on a measly 130 watt heating element

Re:Keeping Count (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149267)

Who fries steaks?

Niggers, that's who.

Get yourself a barbeque, or at least learn how to use the broiler in your oven.

Re:Keeping Count (1, Interesting)

CmdrTostado (653672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149434)

Actually, the blacks were the group who perfected the art of barbeque. They took the leftover pieces that their the masters didn't want to mess with, such as the ribs, and learned how to slow cook them to perfection.

P.S. I grilled 3 meals last weekend. On charcoal. Real flames. Not cityfied propane flames.

Beef, it's what's for dinner, because there's no such thing as a chicken knife.

Re:Keeping Count (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149648)

No flag, Please. I was drawn offtopic by the parent.

Re:Keeping Count (1, Funny)

CmdrTostado (653672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149469)

Score:-1, Flamebait

Get yourself a barbeque

Now that's funny. But if it gets modded as funny then it won't be funny anymore

Do you have a source for the 120M transistors ? (2, Informative)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149261)

I was looking for logic vs. cache break-down numbers for a while, obviously Intel is not keen on providing it on their own.

The way I see it, 24 MB = 1024*1024*8*24 * 6 transistors/SRAM cell = 1.2B transistors for cache, still leaving 500M for logic. Well, we can factor in address storage and cache access logic, but I'd still like to see some harder data than this.

Paul B.

Re:Do you have a source for the 120M transistors ? (5, Informative)

questionlp (58365) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149485)

Keep in mind that the Montecito has 24MB of L3 cache, plus 2.5MB of L2 and 32K of L1 cache. You also need to include links between the two cores, the cores themselves, tags, bus interface and arbiter, plus redundant SRAM cells so that one or two defects doesn't render the die worthless.

I don't know how many additional SRAM cells Intel is planning in each of the cache levels, so the 1.2B transistors for cache can climb up to 1.4-1.6B.

Someone posted a number of 1.47B transistors for the L3 cache at Real World Tech [realworldtech.com] . I'm not sure how credible or accurate that number is.

Another article on RWT shows approximate die floor plan and othat info at:
http://www.realworldtech.com/page.cfm?ArticleID=RW T100404214638&p=4 [realworldtech.com]

Don't hold your breath... (4, Informative)

gaber1187 (681071) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149185)

So many people really doubt Moore's law will die anytime soon. Just because intel isn't jumping MHz every year, doesn't mean its ending... There are so many things left to do to squeeze out more performance in the same area or smaller. You can go to 3D stacks of transistors, higher K oxide dielectric, the list goes on and on. I agree with the article that says that we could see it go into the 2020s... the main problem that will hinder moore's law will be the economics of investing in new fabs, and waning demand of chips, not research and technology limitations. I see more money being pumped into memory chips and special purpose ARM style chips with a focus on low power. Eventually, people will just say, "Moore's law just doesn't matter anymore, the market has changed".

Re:Don't hold your breath... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149258)

"Just because intel isn't jumping MHz every year, doesn't mean its ending..."

Maybe not, but there's certainly been a bit of a bump in progress recently; no notable new desktop CPUs, and certainly no increase in the complexity, component count or speed - unless you want to count cache - nothing in the last 18 months has fulfilled the criteria set out in Moore's Law. Having said that, this anomaly only applies to CPUs.

I would hazard a guess that the law still holds true in memory - major advances there in transistors per square inch - and almost certainly in graphics processors. I envisage more specialised chips appearding to take a lot of the core work from the CPU - World Physics Processors anyone?

With the current circumvention of limitations being to cobble two cores together on a chip, could this also be the route that GPU manufacturers take in a few years or so?

Re:Don't hold your breath... (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149397)

GPUs already use massive parallelization.

Re:Don't hold your breath... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149454)

Yes, but in the sense so do CPUS - multiple registers, pipelines etc.

I should have been clearer, but what I'm expecting is that when GPU designers hit a brick wall they'll take two cores (with their own internal parallelized structures) and bolt them together - more brute force than smart answer.

In fact, now you mention it, I suppose SLI is pretty much that - use two cards rather than one...

Re:Don't hold your breath... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149353)

So many people really doubt Moore's law will die anytime soon. Just because intel isn't jumping MHz every year, doesn't mean its ending...

Actually, it means that it has already ended.

Re:Don't hold your breath... (0)

Al Mutasim (831844) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149471)

Progress will continue. Periodic doubling of computational power transcends physical rationale. Exponential growth is produced by positive feedback, and there is positive feedback in computational progress because each generation of computer is used to design and build the next.

As long as silicon is behind the best computers, this exponential growth will be represented through Moore's Law. Even when we move on from silicon, exponential growth will continue in the new medium. It is reasonable to predict that despite knowing zero about the new medium.

Re:Don't hold your breath... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149493)

Uh...

True or not, that's disturbingly hot.

Am I the ghey?

Moore: Take that, Murphy, you little bitch (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149192)

The countdown... (0, Troll)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149197)

...to the next article discussing how Moore's law can't possibly hold up much longer begins now.

Moore's Law (1)

blobzorz (864386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149210)

This is a great law for the time period, but soon, the law will be broken. http://savescooter.sytes.net/ [sytes.net]

Typical /. Subject. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149211)

Wasn't it MURPHY's LAW ?

Re:Typical /. Subject. (4, Funny)

wahsapa (767922) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149337)

no, Murphys Law is eventually one day someone will make a cyborg police officer.

Re:Typical /. Subject. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149390)

Wasn't it MURPHY's LAW ?

Actually there's that bit in Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton regarding the more complex a system, the more likely it'll break down. (Honestly don't know who to attribute that to other than MC.)

Intel's motto? So far, so good!

Re:Typical /. Subject. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149429)

I vaguely remember a law that states something along the lines of:

"for a system to be inherently useful, its complexity must be such that its failure would be catastrophic"

Kinda obvious.... (2, Insightful)

FalconZero (607567) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149215)

...but the article doesn't point out that the law is based on silicon transistor based computing. Obviously, if we switch to other bases for computation, it probably wont apply. IE quantum or plasmonic (yes, I know the latter will probably be in silicon).

Before anyone says, well we've adjusted the length of time for doubling already, we'll do it again. For what its worth, its a bit silly saying X=2^Y/T is a law if you redefine T everytime it doesn't fit.

Re:Kinda obvious.... (3, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149318)

Strictly speaking, you're right. But Moore's law, despite the name, isn't a law of nature. It's an observation about the progress of the chip industry. And that progress is motivated by a simple feedback loop: other industries put ICs into their products, which motivates the IC industry to retool to make better, cheaper ICs, which motivates other industries to put ICs into their products...

Moore's original observation, that transistor density doubles every 18 months, will obviously cease to apply once it becomes impossible to make transistors. But as long as that feedback loop continues to churn, it continues to make sense to talk about Moore's law.

Re:Kinda obvious.... (4, Insightful)

Temsi (452609) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149714)

Actually, you're wrong in assuming his law will cease to apply once it becomes impossible to make transistors, as the law didn't apply specifically to transistors in the first place.

His observation was made to Electronics magazine, in the April 19th, 1965 edition.
He didn't mention transistor density.
He didn't mention processors (as microprocessors were still 6 years away from being invented).

He was describing component integration on economical integrated circuits.
He observed that component integration doubled approximately every 12 months. He increased that number to 24 months, in 1975. Since then, other people have split the difference to 18 months.

None of those figures, 12, 18 or 24 months, are accurate.
If the 18 month figure was accurate, today's chips would have 75 Billion transistors.
With his original 12 month figure, 27 Trillion.
With his revised 24 month figure, 37 Million...

Also, this isn't even a law... it's an observation.

Please note... I relied on Tom R. Halfhill's column in Maximum PC (April 2005) "The Myths of Moore's Law" for this reply.

The Lesser Known Part 2 of Moore's Law... (5, Funny)

Arcanix (140337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149217)

The amount of articles mentioning Moore's law will double each year.

Mr. Pedantic says... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149290)

Part 2 of Moore's Law

That is what is known as a corollary.

Re:The Lesser Known Part 2 of Moore's Law... (0, Redundant)

aardwolf204 (630780) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149430)

Incorrect. The amount of articles mentioning More's law will double every 18 months.

Re:The Lesser Known Part 2 of Moore's Law... (1)

nxtr (813179) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149633)

Conversely, the number of comments regarding past articles about Moore's Law will also double each year.

There's also a third part... (1)

GNUThomson (806789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149665)

Software efficiency halves every 18 months, so make sure to download newest Gnome/KDE/whatever after your CPU upgrade.

yep (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149229)

yep

law? (2, Insightful)

wpiman (739077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149232)

Shouldn't it be Gordon's theorem is we are questioning it? People don't question the theory of relativity or the theory of evolution (ok- I meant educated people)- and we still refer to these as theories.

Re:law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149323)

Why is it people like you who don't even understand the difference between theory and theorem who ask for changes in terminology?

Re:law? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149327)

"Gordon's theorem"

Ah yes, the theory that at any given moment on the space-time continuum, you will always have just enough processing power to play the current release of Half Life...

Re:law? (1)

thedustbustr (848311) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149376)

quantum mechanics and gr can't both be true... hence 'theory'. Theory of evolution cannot be proven over theory of religious influence in evolution... not to imply that religion can be proved (at the moment, at least... but this goes for anything that can't immediately be proved... future science can probably achieve things we dont even dream about) Not that the distinction matters anymore... half the stuff they teach us in university math is random 'theorems' that are painfully obvious...

Re:law? (2, Funny)

Taladar (717494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149424)

People are questioning Copyright Law and it is not called theory because of that either.

Re:law? (2, Informative)

kaosrain (543532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149427)

A theory is an integrated set of principles that organizes and predicts observations.

Re:law? (1)

dumllama (715921) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149712)

And a law is an observation that holds true, without any explanation.

Educated people (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149538)

Questioning the theory of relativity and the theory of evolution is something that is frequently done [fosters.com] by educated people.

This is how we get a better and more refined understanding.

Solving problems. (1, Insightful)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149233)

People always talk about the end to Moors law stating that we cannot solve some challenges. Other people always reply "well we always manged to solve challenges and we probably always will".
What I think is more interesting is how far ahead we can solve them. The clock distribution problem was a problem for seen and solved years ahead of it biting hard. Nowadays the problems arise and we have shorter and shorter time to react before they cause serious problems.
This is the strongest proof I found that this technology will (eventually) stagnate.

Slashdot corollary (4, Funny)

panaceaa (205396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149236)

What about the Slashdot corollary? That is:
Despite the fact that Moore's Law has been around for 40 years, and widely known about for almost as long, Slashdot will report about it at least once a month.
It's almost as prevalent as the popular media corollary, which is:
Popular media will always say that Moore's law is ending now, while ironically citing examples where such earlier predictions were premature.

Re:Slashdot corollary (2, Funny)

alatesystems (51331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149441)

Or the other popular geek corollary:
BSD is dying. [google.com]
Sometimes followed up with by another corollary:
Each slashdot story is repeated within a small time of the original posting, leading to a doubling in the amount of Moore's law stories.

Is there already a Law that says... (3, Funny)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149240)

at each iteration the time until the next "Death of Morre's Law" article is halved?

If not I herbey proclaim it Goat's Law.

Re:Is there already a Law that says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149586)

herbey? The Love Bug?

Forty Years of Dupes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149243)

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/04/06/123324 7&tid=126 [slashdot.org]

I bet we could find an article for each year if we look hard enough. :)

Data point? No, two points! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149281)

My favorite data point has to be this: in 1965, chips contained about 60 distinct devices; Intel's latest Itanium chip has 1.7 billion transistors!

Uh, wouldnt that be two data points?

Re:Data point? No, two points! (1)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149329)

Actually, that's 10 data points.

In binary, of course.

Re:Data point? No, two points! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149346)

No, that would be two datum points. Or one data point.

Re:Data point? No, two points! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149578)

"Uh, wouldnt that be two data points?"

No, it's an Intel dual core data point.

Guess what? Lastman's law says: (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149288)

Who cares about Moore's law?

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo-body!

oblig star wars reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149343)

luke skywalker: I care.

You and I know who Mel Lastman is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149455)

But for most slashdotters I think that is a pretty obscure reference.

Re:You and I know who Mel Lastman is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149506)

And they should be glad....

Re:Guess what? Lastman's law says: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149474)

"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo-body!"

The Humungous rules the wasteland!

Forty More Years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149291)

Not if we run out of juice to power our tansistors. [lifeaftertheoilcrash.net]

Happy Birthday (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149300)

Happy Birthday Moores Law,
Happy Birthday Moores Law
Happy Birthday Moores Law-awwww.

Happy Birthday Moores Law...

and many mooooore

sorry :(

don't hit me *OW*

Punishment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149456)

Eighteen months from now you have to sing it again twice as fast.

1.7 Billion? (3, Funny)

OAB_X (818333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149317)

Intel's latest Itanium chip has 1.7 billion transistors!"

No wonder they call it the Itanic! Both were big and huge and failed miserably.

It's not a law... (5, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149322)

It's not a law, it's an observation. Did you know the term 'law' for a scientific theory was coined by Isaac Newton, who felt that his 'Laws of Motion' were so right and pervaded the universe so deeply that they had to be a law? He wanted to convey they had a deeper significance than a mere theory. In time of course, even these 'laws' came to be shown to be incomplete or only true for slow moving objects. Ever since, every theory both worthy and crackpot has been called a 'law'. It's about time we returned to the humbler 'theory', 'theorem' or 'observation'. In the case of Moore's 'Law', it's not even a very good theory, since it only describes a very general trend, it cannot predict with any accuracy exactly how fast/how many transistors or elements a chip will have at any time in the future.

By the way, if the Itanium has 1.7 billion transistors, (I'll take the poster's word for it) then one has to ask - are they all pulling their weight? It seems a hell of a lot for what it does. Surely one way to squeeze more out of Moore's Observation is to come up with more efficient architectures and use fewer devices, working more efficiently/smarter/harder. Just a thought.

Electronics Magazine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149324)

"Forty years ago, Electronics Magazine asked Intel co-founder Gordon Moore to write an article summarizing the state of the electronics industry."

I remember Electronics Magazine. I loved it. It was great. It just sort of fizzled out. Alas and alack.

About the only thing I can think of now that covers the whole industry is Spectrum. Otherwise, all that arrives in my mailbox is stuff like Microwave Buyer's News and Circuit Cellar. Is there a great magazine out there that I'm missing?

Michael Moore's Law? (3, Funny)

TimeTraveler1884 (832874) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149328)

Michale Moore has a law now? Great, and I haven't even seen his film Rescue 911 yet. Now I understand why Disney tried to crush him and his law-making ego.

Re:Michael Moore's Law? (2, Funny)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149345)

No, you've got it backwards...Michael Moore's law is about how his ego doubles every 18 months.

Re:Michael Moore's Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149505)

In our house, we call that girth.

Moore's Law is Dead (5, Funny)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149332)

It's buried right next to BSD, adjacent to the freshly dug grave for World of Warcraft.

Good reason for that (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149335)

Moore was at Intel, and was pushing that goal for most of those years.

Self fulfilling (4, Interesting)

Bifurcati (699683) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149340)

One can't help but wonder whether there's a self fulfilling element to these sort of prophecies - do computer manafacturers feel pressure to adhere to Moore's law? Is it a challenge to keep up? Or is it really just chance?

Also, for the record as a physicist, quantum computers won't remove the need for conventional computers in most areas - a big thing is (as I understand it) that they're not programmable, and have to be built to a certain specification. Therefore, classical computers will always have their use.

It definitely has less that 300 - 400 years. (5, Interesting)

highfreq2 (575192) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149358)

Somewhere around there the number of transistors in a chip becomes equal to the number of atoms in the known universe.

Re:It definitely has less that 300 - 400 years. (2, Insightful)

norkakn (102380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149524)

Look at the world was like even 150 years ago. Do you really think that we have any clue what the building blocks of society will be? 150 years ago the telegraph was pretty hot stuff.

Re:It definitely has less that 300 - 400 years. (1)

incom (570967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149670)

2 words: quantum computing.

Graphs???? (4, Interesting)

King-Raz (51985) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149359)

Has anyone got any pretty graphs of the performance of particular CPUs against time? It would be cool to have some sort of visual representation of the validity of Moore's law.

Re:Graphs???? (1)

El (94934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149439)

Moore's Law does not directly predict "performance", rather it predicts the number of transistors on a chip, e.g. "the number of transistors doubles every 18 months." Meaning we should have 67,108,864 times as many transistors as we did 39 years ago... if they have 1.7 billion now, then they should have had about 25 transistors per chip 39 years ago... it appears that we're slightly behind on keeping up with Moore's Law.

Re:Graphs???? (1)

Hawkxor (693408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149703)

You mean ahead...

Re:Graphs???? (1)

cyberman11 (581822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149595)

Hans Moravec's article When will computer hardware match the human brain? [transhumanist.com] includes several charts that show computing machinery speeds from 1900 to 2000. The article asserts that machines will reach human-level processing speed by 2020. I, for one, welcome our new... Oh, never mind.

Re:Graphs???? (1)

OAB_X (818333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149695)

I remember seing one of those graphs in the book my Ray Kurziweil called "Age of Spiritual Machines" not only is the graph identical, but even the scale is the same. You probably cant copyright a graph, but I am now doubting the originality of that article.

Re:Graphs???? (2, Interesting)

CurbyKirby (306431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149746)

First, to answer your question: yes, Tomshardware recently updated their CPU benchmark test to now include over 100 CPUs from the last ten years. Starts here (graphs come later):

http://www20.tomshardware.com/cpu/20041220/index.h tml [tomshardware.com]

Now to explain why you're asking the wrong question: Moore's observation says nothing directly about performance. He merely suggested that the complexity of ICs double every 18 months or so. In general, this has nothing to do with a comparable trend in clock speeds on CPUs, nor performance of CPUs.

On tom's charts, the most recent CPUs are about 50% faster in raw dhry-/whet-stone tests than my CPU which I bought two years ago. Other tests, which rely less on raw CPU performance, show an even smaller difference.

At some point in the past, performance of commodity hardware might have indeed doubled every year and a half. For the past 2-3 years, that's certainly untrue.

Bugs (5, Interesting)

sicking (589500) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149381)

What amazes me the most is the amount of bugs a device with 1.7 billion transistors has compared to the number of bugs in, say, Windows XP, GIMP or Firefox.

And don't give me any crap about that software is somehow inherently harder to keep bugfree. I develop both and there really is little difference when it comes to complexity.

Sure, software performs more complex tasks, but when you add 'parallel-ness' of hardware, as well as timing issues, temperature and manufacturing issues, clock distribution, leakage and crosstalk, hardware defenetly is a pretty good match.

The simple truth is that there is simply vastly more testing that goes into hardware then most software (software in mars rovers and lunar landers would be an exception). And I bet that there are better design methods and safty guards too.

Re:Bugs (4, Insightful)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149525)

Well, several reasons come to mind:

- Software usually performs a more diverse set of options

- The environment where hardware runs is more predictable than the software one

- Formal verification is probably easier to perform with hardware.

- It's easier to verify low level stuff than high level abstractions.

I'd add more, but I've got other things to do unfortunately...

Re:Bugs (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149594)

The simple truth is that there is simply vastly more testing that goes into hardware then most software

The truth is not so simple. Given that the largest part of a modern CPU is cache, as opposed to logic, the transistor count does not reflect the net complexity. If one considers the ISA of a CPU to be it's specification, a chip is a far less complex construct than a non-trivial piece of software. ISA evolution is measured in years and decades. An equivalent piece of software has a relatively small number (on the order of hundreds) of simple, precisely defined functions that are not subject to change. Software is so abstract and complex that it is routinely (trivially?) used to emulate CPUs.

Re:Bugs (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149658)

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

While you're right about most of the transistors being cache, the fact is that chip designs do go through a lot more testing (ie simulation) than most software.

Largely it's economics. It's been a few years since I was involved in chip design (0.25 um) stuff, but IIRC it cost a few hundred $k just to make the masks for a silicon rev. At least 90% of the effort went into simulations and testbenches that are run before you see first silicon. The only software that gets that kind of testing effort is true hi-rel stuff (ie fly-by-wire).

As far as ISA being the spec...that's the simple part. Modern CPU design puts a lot more effort into fun stuff like instruction scheduling, branch prediction, yada, yada, yada (not my specialty).

Re:Bugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149787)

Its definately the verification that gives hardware the edge. There are usually 3-4 times as many people verifying just logical correctness alone then there are designing the logic. The situation is the same for the physical design as well. Intel has a great paper on the P4 validation process here [intel.com] .

Austin Powers (5, Funny)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149395)

I can just see Dr. Evil now...

"I demand the chip have...SIXTY TRANSISTORS!" (pinky lightly touches corner of mouth).

The guys at Intel start laughing hysterically...

"I've changed my mind...I demand the chip have...ONE POINT SEVEN BILLION TRANSISTORS!" (pinky lightly touches corner of mouth)

Intel guys gasp in shock...

Tracing it back... (2, Funny)

8tim8 (623968) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149405)

Rather than calculating this forward in time, didn't someone trace this backwards in time, i.e. that you can see it halving every 18 months going back to the nineteenth century? I can't find a link on Google but I swear I saw it somewhere...

Re:Tracing it back... (1)

wahsapa (767922) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149550)

i can see it now... Ye Old Fry's

But still no frickin sharks!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12149418)

I mean, come on people. What good is technology if I can't get a frickin shark with frickin lasers on it's head?

Moore's Law is probably being exceeded at... (5, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149445)

...the moment. It depends on your application of course. But for number crunching it's hard to beat the GPU on recent graphics cards. For non-graphics applications you can expect speedups from 5-15 times (not %) for things like linear algebra, option pricing and singnal processing. This has been increasing faster than Moore's Law and will likely increase faster. Code written for GPUs is inherently streaming code, and hence easily parallelisable, so many of the complex dependencies that make CPUs tricky to speed up go away. These are exciting times and a big shift in programming paradigm is taking place.

Re:Moore's Law is probably being exceeded at... (2, Interesting)

product byproduct (628318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149591)

Here's a GPU performance graph [plasma-online.de] which illustrates his point.

Law of Accelerating Returns (5, Interesting)

Saeger (456549) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149477)

Few people realize that Moore's Law is just one component of an even greater overall exponential trend which has been called The Law of Accelerating Returns [kurzweilai.net] (by Ray Kurzweil).

Basically, it has been observed that any evolutionary process (including technology) will progress exponentially as it builds on past progress, with barely perceptable slow-down/speed-up "S-curves" as paradigm shifts occur.

Moore's Law is certainly an important component of this trend, as it relates to computing power and eventual AI/IA accelerating to Singularity [singinst.org] in ~25 years, but there are many others in parallel: storage space, networking bandwidth, # of internet nodes, transportation speed, etc.

One thing that certainly ISN'T keeping pace with our technology is our old evolutionary psychology; hopefully we can fix [hedweb.com] some of the more disgusting aspects of human nature before it's too late [gmu.edu] .

Re:Law of Accelerating Returns (3, Insightful)

s1234d (542588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149664)

Hubbert's Curve (peak oil) is going to trump Moore's Law. There will be no accelerating returns.

Technology gets better. (1)

ElDuderino44137 (660751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149563)

Moore's Lay ...
Things get better ...
Doubbly so.

That's fine and good.
But how about another law that incicates how long it will take for that technology to hit the shelves ;)

it's size, not moors law (0)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149579)

If I make a processor the size of a dinner plate I could probably put over a trillion gates on it. Doesn't mean that I 'broke' moors law, just means I make bigger processor dies.

Gates Law (3, Funny)

xs650 (741277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12149758)

Gates Law: MS Code bloat will double at the same interval as Moores law.
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