ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Silicon’s limitations set against Moore's law

Updated on April 30, 2013

Integrated circuits or chips are the heart of all computers. These chips are largely made from silicon, the second most abundant element found in the earth's crust. Silicon can be found every where on this earth, such as in sands or in the glasses. Perhaps the most revolutionary use of silicon is in computer chips that changed the method of computing and the way we live.

Silicon enabled the engineers to integrate more components onto the same size chip, almost doubling the number of components on a given piece of silicon roughly every two years. But there is a limit on the stretchibility of the silicon chips. As the individual components on a chip get smaller, the physical possibility of doing so is reaching to an end.

However the chip manufacturers have devised new ways to cram more number of smaller transistors onto a single chip. By setting the transistors in different arrangements, engineers have been able to create a circuit that can store a value or perform a calculations.

Constraints at atomic level

The number of transistors on chips keep increasing at a double rate in every two years. This trend was predicted by Intel founder Gordon Moore in 1965 and henced named Moore's Law. To integrate more number of transistors on a single chip, the size of transistors has to keep reducing. Lately the smallest transistor that could be placed on a chip was 65 nanometers across. But to cope with Moore’s Law humming, even 65 nm isn’t enough. Some of the companies are now producing chips based on 45 nm devices.

Atoms and molecules are the building blocks of the transistors and their dimensions just cannot be reduced. In case the transistors or their components continue to get smaller, a point will reach where the placement of individual atoms will affect their behavior.

In order to work properly, the thickness of the silicon layers in chips needs to shrink proportionally to the length and width. At the 90 and 65 nm horizontal sizes, the thickness of “gate oxide” layer, which acts as an electrical insulator between conductive layers, remains only 1.2 nm. It sums up to the thickness of five individual atoms. At this level it is ok. But the problem is that at 45 nm, the gate oxide would have to be even thinner. In such a case electrons would start tunneling through it, ruining its properties as an insulator. Intel worked around this problem by using a new layer based on the element hafnium.

What after silicon?

Chipmakers and scientists have been discussing about the alternative forms of computing technologies to keep Moore’s Law alive. The idea which comes foremost is Optical computing, that would use photons instead of electrons. But the optical technology works best to connect processors together over a distance, rather than inside the chips themselves.

Quantum computing is another alternative that uses the attributes of elementary particles such as electrons as the basis for calculation. Unlike traditional digital computing, in quantum computing a bit of data can be stored as 1 or a 0 both at once. However the good news for Moore’s Law is that it seems healthy for at least another 10 years or so.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)