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How Much Smaller Can Chips Go?


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Intel Westmere processors

Westmere processors

Intel

Seven of the finest minds Intel can muster are lined up on stage, ready to take questions from a pack of visibly intimidated European journalists.

These are Intel fellows—the highest rank of technical merit afforded to the company’s engineers—whose CVs are stuffed with Ph.D.s and patents in the places that most people put fillers such as "excellent typing skills" and "interest in badminton."

Finally, one of the press pack plucks up the courage to ask a question. Is Moore’s Law—Gordon Moore’s legendary prediction that the number of transistors on a processor will double every two years—dead? One or two of the fellows chuckle politely, others are visibly irritated. Almost all are eager to grab the microphone and put the impertinent questioner straight.

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