Moore's Law won't hold true in 6-8 years: Chang

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The China Post news staff

Moore's Law will have run its course in six to eight years, predicted Morris Chang, chairman and CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), yesterday, at a technology forum.

Moore's Law, proposed by Gordon Moore of Intel, dictates that the number of transistors will double on a chip every two years, making the chip more powerful. However, there will come a day when transistors on a chip can not be shrunk anymore due to the physical properties of the chip. Therefore the timing of the demise of Moore's Law has become a pressing and urgent topic among semiconductor manufacturers.

In yesterday's forum, Chang said that day will come in six to eight years.

He pointed out that semiconductor production has been Taiwan's most successful industry. When TSMC was founded in 1987, its manufacturing capabilities were two generations behind the world leading firms. Today, only two firms can compete effectively with TSMC, which is now capable of making 28-nanometer (nm) products and is also focusing on the next-generation 20-nm node, he said.

With Moore's Law having run its course in six to eight years, TSMC will focus on low-power, micro-electro-mechanical systems and image sensor applications, he said.

He pointed out there isn't much room for reducing the size of chips further. Yet more attention could be focused on packaging solutions and print circuit boards, which have just one-thousandth of the density of integrated circuits, he said.

He also emphasized semiconductor devices will have more non-PC applications, for example smart phones and tablets that have gotten so popular, “my wife spends an average of two hours daily on the iPad and iPhone.”

He further pointed to photovoltaics and light-emitting diodes as the two pillars of TSMC's development in the future. TSMC's solar cells will be thin-film-based, although most manufacturers use the monocrystalline silicon technology, he said.

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