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Moore's Law heading for the buffers says TSMC

Moore's 'Law' will hit the buffers in six-to-eight years' time, according to Morris Chang, chairman of leading chip foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

Ever since Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore said something like: the number of transistors on a floggable integrated circuit will double every couple of years or so, Intel has been trumpeting it as a 'law', and - planet be damned - we'll all have to upgrade our PCs every couple of years to stick a new chip in it, or hobble about with a case of technological rickets.

The 'law' is in fact no law at all and has come to prominence more as a statement of intent from a chip maker engaged in making money rather than pure technological research.

TSMC's Chang said his company has been keeping up with the cycle of shrink and double since its founding in 1987 when it kicked off from a starting point a couple of generations behind the likes of Intel.

But inevitably, as transistors are shrunk to sub-molecular level Moore's Law will no longer be possible to follow using the established techniques Chang suggested .A bit of thinking out of the box becomes necessary.

TSMC will begin trialling a 20nm process in the second half of next year but, according to Digitimes the company;s senior R&D VP Shang-yi Chiang. reckons it will take about ten years for TSMC to transition to sub-10nm nodes. But where will the industry go from there?

Chang suggests the shift towards low power consumption and integrated audio-visual functionality gives a hint as to what the future may hold.

Intel may need have to find itself a new business model.