What happens after Moore’s Law runs out of steam?

This morning’s Observer column:

Fifty years ago, Gordon Moore, the co-founder of the chip manufacturer Intel described a regularity he had observed that would one day make him a household name. What he had noticed was that the number of transistors that could be fitted on a given area of silicon doubled roughly every two years. And since transistor density is correlated with computing power, that meant that computing power doubled every two years. Thus was born Moore’s law.

At the beginning, few outside of the computer industry appreciated the significance of this. Humanity, it turns out, is not good at understanding the power of doubling – until it’s too late. Remember the fable about the emperor and the man who invented chess…

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