Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits


GORDON E. MOORE, LIFE FELLOW, IEEE

With unit cost falling as the number of components per circuit rises, by 1975 economics may dictate squeezing as many as 65 000 components on a single silicon chip.

The future of integrated electronics is the future of electronics itself. The advantages of integration will bring about a proliferation of electronics, pushing this science into many new areas.

Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers—or at least terminals connected to a central computer—automatic controls for automobiles, and personal portable communications equipment. The electronic wristwatch needs only a display to be feasible today.

But the biggest potential lies in the production of large systems. In telephone communications, integrated circuits in digital filters will separate channels on multiplex equipment. Integrated circuits will also switch telephone circuits and perform data processing.

Computers will be more powerful, and will be organized in completely different ways. For example, memories built of integrated electronics may be distributed throughout the machine instead of being concentrated in a central unit. In addition, the improved reliability made possible by integrated circuits will allow the construction of larger processing units. Machines similar to those in existence today will be built at lower costs and with faster turnaround.

I. PRESENT AND FUTURE

By integrated electronics, I mean all the various technologies which are referred to as microelectronics today as well as any additional ones that result in electronics functions supplied to the user as irreducible units. These technologies were first investigated in the late 1950’s. The object was to miniaturize electronics equipment to include increasingly complex electronic functions in limited space with minimum weight. Several approaches evolved, including microassembly techniques for individual components, thin-film structures, and semiconductor integrated circuits.

Reprinted from Gordon E. Moore, “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits,” Electronics, pp. 114-117, April 19, 1965.

Publisher Item Identifier S 0018-9219(98)00753-1.

Each approach evolved rapidly and converged so that each borrowed techniques from another. Many researchers believe the way of the future to be a combination of the various approaches.

The advocates of semiconductor integrated circuitry are already using the improved characteristics of thin-film resistors by applying such films directly to an active semiconductor substrate. Those advocating a technology based upon films are developing sophisticated techniques for the attachment of active semiconductor devices to the passive film arrays.

Both approaches have worked well and are being used in equipment today.

II. THE ESTABLISHMENT

Integrated electronics is established today. Its techniques are almost mandatory for new military systems, since the reliability, size, and weight required by some of them is achievable only with integration. Such programs as Apollo, for manned moon flight, have demonstrated the reliability of integrated electronics by showing that complete circuit functions are as free from failure as the best individual transistors.

Most companies in the commercial computer field have machines in design or in early production employing integrated electronics. These machines cost less and perform better than those which use “conventional” electronics.

Instruments of various sorts, especially the rapidly increasing numbers employing digital techniques, are starting to use integration because it cuts costs of both manufacture and design.

The use of linear integrated circuitry is still restricted primarily to the military. Such integrated functions are expensive and not available in the variety required to satisfy a major fraction of linear electronics. But the first applications are beginning to appear in commercial electronics, particularly in equipment which needs low-frequency amplifiers of small size.

III. RELIABILITY COUNTS

In almost every case, integrated electronics has demonstrated high reliability. Even at the present level of pro-



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