Intel rival AMD claims Moore’s Law is not dead

Gaming chip firm says Moore’s Law is thriving in the form of ‘Moore’s Law Plus’

Moore's Law is not dead, according to the CTO of chip giant AMD, whose claim goes against the industry-wide observation that the theory is on its last legs.

Moore's Law is the prediction made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 that computing power would double every two years thanks to developments in technology over time leading to shrinking transistor sizes.

The law turned 50 last year and has so far proved an accurate guide for chip makers, but Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced last year the firm would move away from the prediction for the first time, shifting transistor size from two to 2.5 years.

However, AMD - despite being Intel's biggest rival - doesn't agree.

"Some people have said Moore's Law is dead, so my question to them is: so how can you do a generation leap [in chips]?" AMD's CTO, Mark Papermaster, told IT Pro in a briefing in London. "Moore's Law is not dead."

Papermaster believes that Moore's Law is alive and well, and said only narrow-minded people think its evolution is just about transistor size.

"It's not just about the transistor anymore; we can't just have transistors improving every cycle," he explained. "It does take semiconductor transistor improvements, but the elements that we do in design in architecture, and how we put solutions together, also keep in line [with] a Moore's Law pace.

This, Papermaster says, is what AMD call Moore's Law Plus'.

"Moore's Law Plus means you stay in a Moore's Law pace of computing improvement. So you can keep in with a Moore's Law cycle but you don't rely on just semiconductor chips, you do it with a combination of other techniques," he added. 

These "other techniques" refer to a combination of design, the semiconductor and how you architect those system solutions that will keep on the Moore's Law pace.

It might be combinations of CPU and GPU, other accelerators, different memory configurations, or how they are pieced together there is room for lots of innovation at the next level.

Papermaster's comments on Moore's Law were made while discussing how far away the industry is from truly "life-like" virtual reality (VR), where detail is so high that your eyes are unable to tell the difference between VR and real life.

He believes this level of life-like interaction' is 10 years away, but it will not just happen suddenly. Rather, the technology powering VR will improve incrementally over the years.

"Like any technological evolution, you're going to see an improvement in every generation, which is typically a 12-month cycle, so it won't be a single leap and then we suddenly have life-like interaction," he said.

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