tronic form and receives continuous updates. Placing SEMATECH’s expenditure for data collection in the early 1990s at $1 million annually, Dr. Spencer remarked that the Roadmap is not an inexpensive endeavor.
He then promised the audience that the following two presentations, on microprocessors and magnetic storage, would go to the heart of computer performance. These important technologies, including LCDs [liquid-crystal displays], have provided productivity advances that have “driven the rest of the electronics revolution.” Recalling a past prediction that a clock speed of 2 GHz would make possible relatively good voice-recognition capability, he noted that the industry was getting close to this and called upon William Siegle of Advanced Micro Devices to chart the future of processors. Thereafter Robert Whitmore of Seagate would talk about magnetic storage, which, Dr. Spencer said, has been progressing even more rapidly than semiconductor capability as measured in cost per bit.
William T. Siegle
Advanced Micro Devices
Dr. Siegle began by crediting the Semiconductor Roadmap for the speed of the information technology industry’s recent advance. He offered two reasons for what he regarded as a direct causal connection between the road-mapping process and the acceleration that had taken place in the decline of logic cost:
Making meaningful improvements in capability requires the coordination of many different pieces of technology, and the Roadmap has made very visible both what those pieces are and what advances are required in different sectors of the industry to achieve that coordination.
As companies believe that staying ahead of the Roadmap is a component of success and strive to do so, the existence of a published Roadmap heightens competition.
If the industry feels it is moving ahead too rapidly, he jested, “we should just stop publishing the Roadmap for a little while and descend back into chaos.”
The aim of his talk, Dr. Siegle announced, was to survey the evolution of the microprocessor and to pin down the factors responsible for it in order to determine what must be nurtured and sustained so that similar progress might be achieved in the future. Focusing on the previous 10 years—which he considered a representative period, and which coincided with his direct involvement in the area at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)—he posited that advance had resulted from improvements on four fronts: the architecture of microprocessors; the tools that are used to translate architecture into a physical design that can be imple-