Law phenomenon included a continuing process of technological innovation that effectively pushed ahead of it the technological “brick wall,” that moment when technological roadblocks would slow or halt the pace of doubling.

He then described an “economist’s default corollary” to Moore’s Law, which describes processing cost in dollars per device. Because lithographic and other advances have produced twice as many features per “technology node” every three years, and the cost of wafer processing has remained roughly constant, the processing cost in dollars per device has shown a compound annual decline rate (CADR) of 21 percent.

An ‘Ingenuity Corollary’

Then he added an “ingenuity corollary,” consisting of several observations:

  • Instead of doubling chip size, the industry has used technological ingenuity to increase chip size by only Z (Z < 2) times.

    • A recent example is DRAM size, which has increased by only Z=1.37.

    • Another example is 3-D device structures.

  • The use of ingenuity has several implications:

    • For DRAMs recently, CADR has equaled minus-30 percent.

    • For DRAMs in the 1970s and 1980s, the wafer-processing cost also fell, so that CADR equaled approximately minus-37 percent.

    • The Japan/VLSI project has had a competition impact.

  • Another example is ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits), which represent rapid, leading-edge technology adoption.

  • This has a transitory impact on CADR.

He added that the differences in semiconductor price movements are huge (see Figure 1). The prices declining fastest are those of microprocessors, DRAMs, other MOS logic, and other MOS memory. Prices have declined little for analog devices, bipolar devices, and light-emitting diodes.

The implications for input prices in different user industries are also great, he said. Input prices are much higher for automobiles and all of industry than for computers, “all end-user sectors,” and communications.

Tinkering with Moore’s Law

Then he looked at the consequences of “tinkering with Moore’s Law” so as to change the time required for doubling the number of devices on a chip. In fact, the roadmap committee did just that in the late 1990s, changing the doubling time from every 3 years to every 2 years. This was a consequence partly of technological abilities and partly of competitive pressures. This raised the compound annual decline rate for processing prices from minus-21 percent to minus-29 percent, for



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