Moore’s Law refers to an observation by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation, in 1965, that the number of transistors per square inch on an integrated circuit had doubled every year since the development of the technology and that it would continue to do so.
"[F]or the last 40 years, computing capability per dollar has doubled every 18 to 24 months, equivalent to a 100-fold improvement every 10 to 13 years, reflected in both rapidly increasing performance and declining price. These performance gains, the associated development of software applications, and falling prices for IT relative to its capabilities have propelled IT into new markets."
The rate has since slowed to every 18 months, but the "law" has now been extended to refer to the processing power of a computer chip, memory capacity, and even the number and size of pixels in digital cameras. In other words, computers become faster at an explosive rate, or conversely, the price of a given level of computing power decreases at that same dramatic rate.
Both the computers through which users access the Internet, and the routers that transmit data within the Internet, are subject to the price/performance curve described by Moore's Law. At the same time, advances in data transmission technology have expanded the capacity of the Internet's backbone networks. As the bandwidth available through the network continues to grow, Moore's Law states that the price of obtaining a given level of bandwidth will continue to drop.
"Moore's law has the effect of driving IT companies to offer the very latest technology continually. To do otherwise would mean losing out to competitors. There is an unusually high obsolescence factor driven by the rapid advances in IT. Any company attempting to offer 2-year-old versions of its systems would, in effect, be offering technology only half as cost-effective as the latest technology allows. In other words, the penalty for being late to market is to lag the performance of more rapidly developed competitive products. Abbreviated product development cycles accelerate the pace of research — if researchers can produce tangible results faster, then products can change faster. If research is done at all, it is often impossible to follow the traditional open research model, with results broadly available for review."
- In 1975, he offered a revised prediction of "a doubling every two years, rather than every year." See 1965 – "Moore's Law" Predicts the Future of Integrated Circuits (full-text).
- Making IT Better: Expanding Information Technology Research to Meet Society's Needs, at 23.
- National Research Council, "Measuring and Sustaining the New Economy, Software, Growth, and the Future of the U.S Economy: Report of a Symposium" 6 (Fig. 1) (Dale W. Jorgenson & Charles W. Wessner eds 2006) (full-text).
- Making IT Better: Expanding Information Technology Research to Meet Society's Needs, at 32.