Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder who coined chip rule, dies at 94
Published in Business News
Gordon Moore, the Intel Corp. co-founder whose theory on computer-chip development became the yardstick for progress in the electronics industry, has died. He was 94.
Moore died peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii on Friday, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation said in a statement.
A founder of industry pioneer Fairchild Semiconductor, Moore in 1968 co-founded Intel, which grew into the world’s largest semiconductor maker at one point. The Santa Clara, California-based company supplies about 80% of the world’s personal computers with their most important part, the microprocessor. Moore was chief executive officer from 1975 to 1987.
Intel and other semiconductor makers still develop products according to a version of Moore’s Law, the scientist’s 1965 observation that the number of transistors on a computer chip — which determines the speed, memory and capabilities of an electronic device — doubles every year. The law, which Moore revised in 1975, remains a yardstick for progress both within and beyond the chip industry, even as its continued applicability is a topic of debate.
Moore’s observation was fundamental to Intel’s rise to prominence. The company poured increasing sums into improving manufacturing of the tiny electronic components at a pace its rivals couldn’t keep up with. The torrid rate of progress made Intel’s technology the hardware heart of the personal computer revolution, then the internet revolution, until the company’s Asian rivals challenged its leadership.
Alive and Well
“Intel will be the steward of Moore’s Law for decades to come,” Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger said in a January 2022 interview. He said the law “is alive and we’re going to keep it very well.”
Carver Mead, an engineering professor at the California Institute of Technology, came up with the name Moore’s Law. Moore himself expressed surprise at its influence and longevity and preferred to demystify and downplay it.
“I wanted to get across, here’s an idea where the technology is going to evolve rapidly and it’s going to have a major impact on the cost of electronics,” Moore recalled for a video produced by the Chemical Heritage Foundation. “That was the main point I was trying to get across, that this was going to be the path to low-cost electronics.”
Moore was director of research and development at Fairchild when he made his famous projection in an article, “Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits,” for the April 19, 1965, edition of Electronics magazine. Noting that the most cost-efficient circuit at that time held 50 transistors, he predicted that number would roughly double each year to 65,000. Modern microprocessors have billions of transistors.
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