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News Link • Technology: Software

The Moore's Law Moon Shot

•, Tom Simonite

It is seemingly a fact of life that every new generation of computing gadget will be significantly more powerful than the one before, but a looming technical roadblock threatens to undermine that.

That's why the world's largest chip maker, Intel, announced on Monday that it has invested $4 billion in Dutch company ASML, which makes equipment for manufacturing computer chips.

The two companies are trying to instigate a collaboration involving the world's largest computing companies—in a kind of silicon moon shot—to ensure that chips keep getting faster by perfecting the tools needed to make smaller features on silicon chips.
"If you have more people to share the risk and contribute, then the prognosis for success as we approach this technological transition goes up," says Robert Bruck, vice president of Intel's technology and manufacturing group.
Intel recently launched its first generation of chips with features as small as 22 nanometers. Current methods of making chips will be fine for two generations after—down to 14 nanometers and 11 nanometers. That should keep current methods useful until around 2013, but after that, a new manufacturing technology will be needed. Unfortunately, the best candidate is not only incomplete, but already late.

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