Thomas Friedman Interviews Gordon Moore (of Moore’s Law Fame)!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman,  published an interview today he conducted with Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, and well-known for his prediction (Moore’s Law) of the exponential growth in the capacity of microchips. Moore predicted in 1965 that every year we’d double the number of transistors that could fit on a single chip of silicon so you’d get twice as much computing power for only slightly more money. When that came true, in 1975, he modified his prediction to a doubling roughly every two years. “Moore’s Law” has essentially held up ever since — and, despite the skeptics, keeps chugging along, making it probably the most remarkable example ever of sustained exponential growth of a technology. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

“Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich summarized where Moore’s Law has taken us. If you took Intel’s first generation microchip, the 1971 4004, and the latest chip Intel has on the market today, the fifth-generation Core i5 processor, he said, you can see the power of Moore’s Law at work: Intel’s latest chip offers 3,500 times more performance, is 90,000 times more energy efficient and about 60,000 times lower cost.

To put that another way, Krzanich said Intel engineers did a rough calculation of what would happen had a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle improved at the same rate as microchips did under Moore’s Law: “Here are the numbers: [Today] you would be able to go with that car 300,000 miles per hour. You would get two million miles per gallon of gas, and all that for the mere cost of 4 cents! Now, you’d still be stuck on the [Highway] 101 getting here tonight, but, boy, in every opening you’d be going 300,000 miles an hour!”

What is most striking in Moore’s 1965 article is how many predictions he got right about what these steadily improving microchips would enable. The article, entitled “Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits,” argued that: “Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers — or at least terminals connected to a central computer — automatic controls for automobiles, and personal portable communications equipment. The electronic wristwatch needs only a display to be feasible today. … In telephone communications, integrated circuits in digital filters will separate channels on multiplex equipment. [They] will also switch telephone circuits and perform data processing.”

Moore pretty much anticipated the personal computer, the cellphone, self-driving cars, the iPad, Big Data and the Apple Watch.”

When asked, Mr. Moore also had interesting comments about machines replacing workers as well as the growth of the Internet.

Good read!



One comment

  1. I beg to differ a little: “… doubling roughly every two years …” – As far as I am aware. the final prediction was “doubling every 18 months” which is a huge difference in exponential growth both from the original one year but also much faster than the two years you allude to. However, the formulation was always a bit vague as to what “capacity” actually meant, i.e. in which way it would be measured exactly. And indeed, benchmarks have come and got in these 40 years since 1975. AND … I have an inkling that Intel itself has tweaked the make-up of its processors so as to seemingly always match that target every eighteen months even if their technological developments might have suggested other priorities and probably because this prediction became a benchmark that had to be met e.g. so as not to shake investor confidence, just like some automotive companies have to come up with some new design even if technology would suggest a remake of an older model would be working just as well …