Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, author of Moore’s Law, died on March 24 at the age of 94.
An IEEE member was awarded the 2008 IEEE Medal of Honor for “pioneering technical roles in integrated circuit processing and leadership in the development of MOS memory, microprocessor computers, and the semiconductor industry.”
Moore founded Intel in 1968 with computer pioneer Robert Noyce. Moore, Noyce, and other Intel engineers are credited with creating laptop computers and other electronics for millions of people through their semiconductor developments. Currently, Intel microprocessors are used in personal computers from major manufacturers, including Dell, HP, and IBM.
Moore is best known for his 1965 prediction that would become known as Moore’s Law: the observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would increase exponentially while the retail cost of computers would decline.
His original hypothesis, published in 1965 Electronics magazine article, was that the number of transistors would double every year. His prediction came true within the next decade. In 1975, he revised the theory and predicted that the number of transistors would double every 18 months – a statement that remained true for several decades. Moore’s Law set the bar for semiconductor manufacturers and is still the driving force behind computer innovation.
“Gordon Moore with his prediction that turned into law, reflected the very gestalt of the semiconductor industry as an exponential ambition,” said IEEE member Aart de Geus, CEO of Synopsys. “He became not only a visionary, but also our coach, pushing us to the impossible. Now, 58 years later, classic Moore’s Law has evolved into SysMoore, a system complexity with the ambition of Moore’s Law. His legacy fuels our aspirations and inspiration for further decades of exponential influence.
“Gordon, thank you for being V a motivating coach in our field and on my own professional path!”
From Explorer to Entrepreneur
Moore received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1950 from the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving his PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1954, he began his career as a researcher at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
He returned to California two years later and joined Shockley Semiconductor, a West Coast division of Bell Labs that set out to develop an inexpensive silicon transistor. Dissatisfied with William Shockley’s leadership, Moore, Noyce and six other Shockley employees left the company on the same day in 1957. Sunnyvale, California. The company became a pioneer in the production of transistors and integrated circuits.
Cornerstone of Silicon Valley
Moore [right]with Andy Grove [left] and Robert Noyce founded Intel in 1968.Intel
In 1968, Moore and Noyce decided to leave Fairchild and form their own semiconductor memory company. The two engineers, along with Andrew Grove, an integrated circuit engineer and former assistant development director at Fairchild, founded Integrated Electronics (later shortened to Intel). Moore served as the company’s executive vice president.
The founders experimented with silicon gate metal oxide semiconductors. To create a MOSFET, they placed aluminum wires connecting several transistors on the surface of a fingernail-sized piece of silicon. The chemically treated substance has played a key role in the development of smaller and smaller electronic circuits that will operate at ever higher speeds.
Intel’s first product, the 64-bit SRAM 3101, was released in 1969. It was nearly twice as fast as existing competitor memory products, including Fairchild and the Tsukuba Electrical Engineering Laboratory, Japan. The Intel 1103 was released in 1970 and by 1972 was the world’s best-selling semiconductor memory chip.
In 1971, the company created the first commercially available microprocessor, the 4004. The central processing unit was miniaturized, allowing small electronics to perform calculations that only large machines are capable of.
Moore was Intel’s president from 1975 to 1979 and later became CEO and chairman of the board. In the early 1980s, inspired by the success of the 4004, Moore decided to shift the company’s focus from semiconductors to microprocessors.
Intel has supplied microprocessors to several companies, including IBM, which helped them capitalize on the booming PC market and usher in a 10-year period of unprecedented growth.
Moore stepped down as CEO in 1987, but remained chairman of the board until his retirement in 1997. He served as Honorary Chairman until 2006.
Under his leadership, Intel not only spurred the growth of the personal computer; it also provided the basis for what became known as Silicon Valley, as detailed in his Washington Post obituary. The article states that Intel has helped establish the region as a global technology innovation hub.
Moore’s Law: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
In Moore’s now famous article for Electronicshe predicted the trajectory of how powerful microchips would become over time, while costs to the consumer continued to fall.
“At the time I wrote the article, I thought I was just showing a local trend,” he said. IEEE Spectrum in 2015. “The integrated circuit has changed the economics of everything [electronics] industry, and this was not yet universally recognized. So I wrote this article to try and get the message across: this is how the industry is going to make things really cheap.”
His theory arose from an observation of a planar transistor, developed in 1957 by Fairchild physicist Jean Horney, in which an oxide layer is left on a silicon wafer to protect the sensitive semiconductor materials underneath.
“I noticed that [number of components] doubled annually. And I just made a wild extrapolation saying that over the next 10 years it will continue to double every year,” he said. IEEE Spectrum.
Nearly 60 years later, his vision is still moving the industry forward. As of December 2022, the largest number of transistors in a commercial processor, the Apple M1 Ultra chip, was 114 billion.
While Moore’s Law will inevitably slow down and come to an end, Intel predicts that chip density will continue to increase to 3 trillion transistors by 2030.
Moore has received several IEEE awards for his pioneering innovations. In addition to the 2008 Medal of Honor, he received the 1978 Goode Memorial Award from the IEEE Computer Society and the 1978 McDowell Award, while he and Noyce received the 1986 Computer Entrepreneur Award.
In 2002, Moore received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He was also awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 1990.
Moore was a dedicated philanthropist who donated to environmental, scientific, and public health charities. Together with his 72-year-old wife, Moore founded the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000, which has donated over US$5.1 billion to charitable causes.
“Gordon Moore’s contribution to society has gone far beyond semiconductors and Moore’s law,” said IEEE member Siavash Alamouti, co-founder of the Mimik computer company and 2022 Marconi Prize winner. “He was a champion of digital access and supported our initiatives for affordable and open mobile internet and many other powerful technologies that have a direct impact on our lives. He will be greatly missed.”