[QCon 2019] No Moore Left to Give

Bryan Cantrill

For other QCon blog posts, see QCon live blog table of contents

Moore’s law

  • Not about speed, # transistors, density or per dollar
  • Not coined by Moore
  • Came from paper in 1965 – “Cramming more components onto integrated circuits:
  • Term coined in 1971 when Carver Mead was talking to a journalist
  • Moore also predicated home computers and computers onboard cars. Predicting 40 years out accurately is hard.
  • Predicted lower costs
  • In 1975, Moore updated the law to be a doubling of transistor density every two years. Meant to be a way of motivating engineers.
  • An Intel executive said 18 months (vs 2 years) and that got quoted all over.


  • Apps don’t get twice as fast.
  • Hit memory wall
  • Moore’s Law could add more caching, but that can only get so far
  • Need Symmetric Multi Processing to increase throughput
  • Speculative execution tried to pre-execute code and then became a security issue
  • Cost matters. It’s not about increasing speed at any cost

End of Moore’s Law

  • Samsung trying to 3 nanometer.
  • Many unsolved problems
  • A silicon atom is .2 nanometers.
  • This is the end. Can’t physically make smaller. 3 nanometers is only 15 atoms across
  • 7 nanometers might be the smallest size at a reasonable cost.

Beyond Moore’s Law – Quantum

  • Quantum computer is surprisingly really
  • Need large refrigerator. Must be close to absolute zero
  • Problem domain is very limited
  • Scale is tiny
  • Don’t yet have ability to scale qbits
  • Quantum computing may be relevant one day for the enterprise, but not any time soon

Beyond Moore’s Law – Specialized Compute

  • Bitcoin mining
  • GPGPU for ML/DL (machine learning/deep learning)

Beyond Moore’s Law – 3D

  • Heat and cost problems
  • Intel working on (Foveros)
  • Not a way to get “back on track” for Moore’s law

Beyond Moore’s Law – 2.5D

  • Smaller chiplets that are integrated on a larger die through silicon
  • Can be different types and sizes
  • Intel investing in this as well.

Beyond Moore’s Law – Alternate Tech

  • Carbon nanotubes, phase change memory, etc
  • History indicates won’t be able to compete on economics
  • If/when break through, change industry
  • Flash memory is only example of a break through like this

Beyond Moore’s Law – Wright’s Law

  • Cost of manufacturing an aircraft dropped 10-15% which volume doubled
  • Learning curve effect
  • Possible chips will get cheaper again as product goes up.

My impressions

This was great! He has amazing energy. It was a topic that was interesting and general interest. (I missed some of this because I was excited and communicating about being a Java Champion!). The state of the art and future is cool to hear about!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *