Moore's Law or Moore's Flaw? Sustainability of an Industry Built on Exponential Growth
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Roughly stated, Moore's Law observes that the processing power of computers doubles approximately every two years, and has retained striking accuracy over the past five decades. Since it was first observed by Intel Corporation co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965, Moore's Law has been something of an enigma to the semiconductor industry. Although originally made to project the industry's capacity to innovate, Moore’s Law came to dictate the pace of the semiconductor industry’s growth. Many industry experts continue to insist on its impending doom, despite numerous incorrect examples of such forecasts during the last 30 years. I discuss the ever-evolving meaning of Moore's Law that has allowed it to persist in surprising ways. However, the eventual demise of Moore's Law, if not pre-empted by economic factors, is all but guaranteed by the laws of physics. I explore the sustainability of an industry founded on a model of exponential growth and suggest an alternative model of logistic growth. Ultimately, I connect the progress of the semiconductor industry to the progress of the global economy, and anticipate ways to weather the change in growth signaled by the end of Moore's Law.