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Uncovering the economic and social impact of Moore's Law

Posted: 19 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS? Moore's Law? economy? semiconductor technology? technology innovation?

The influence of Moore's Law has penetrated all the way from connectivity to globalisation and sustainability. Gordon Moore's prediction for the pace of semiconductor technology advances has set the stage for global technology innovation for 50 years, and has changed the world as we know it.

The ongoing innovation, invention and investment in technology and the effects that arise from it are likely to enable continued advances along this same path in the future, according to a report from IHS Inc. Titled "Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Moore's Law," the report describes how the activity predicted by Moore's Law not only drives technological change, but has also created huge economic value and driven social advancement.

In April of 1965, Fairchild Semiconductor's research and development director, Gordon Moore, who later founded Intel, penned an article that led with the observation that transistors would decrease in cost and increase in performance at an exponential rate. Moore specifically, posited that the quantity of transistors that can be incorporated into a single chip would nearly double every 18 to 24 months. This seminal observation was later dubbed "Moore's Law."

"50 years ago today, Moore defined the trajectory of the semiconductor industry, with profound consequences that continue to touch every aspect of our day-to-day lives," said Dale Ford, VP and chief analyst for IHS Technology. "In fact, Moore's Law forecast a period of explosive growth in innovation that has transformed life as we know it."

The IHS Technology report finds that an estimated $3 trillion of additional value has been added to the global gross domestic product (GDP), plus another $9 trillion of indirect value in the last 20 years, due to the pace of innovation predicted by Moore's Law. The total value is more than the combined GDP of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

If the cadence of Moore's Law had slowed to every 3 years, rather than two years, technology would have only advanced to 1998 levels: smartphones would be 9 years away, the commercial Internet in its infancy (5 years old) and social media would not yet have skyrocketed.

"Moore's Law has proven to be the most effective predictive tool of the last half-century of technological innovation, economic advancement, and by association, social and cultural change," Ford said. "It has implications for connectivity and the way we interact, as evidenced by the way social relationships now span the globe. It also provides insight into globalisation and economic growth, as technology continues to transform entire industries and economies. Finally it reveals the importance of how sustainability affects life on Earth, as we continue to transform our physical world in both positive and negative ways."

The Moore's Law Era: Explosive Economic and Societal Change

The consequences of Moore's Law has fuelled multifactor productivity growth. The activity forecast by the law has contributed a full per centage point to real GDP growth, including both direct and indirect impact, every year between 1995 and 2011, representing 37 per cent of global economic impact.

"Not even Gordon Moore himself predicted the blistering pace of change for the modern world," Ford said. "While it is true most people have never seen a microprocessor, every day we benefit from experiences that are all made possible by the exponential growth in technologies that underpin modern life."

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