Moore's Law Holding Steady?

Authors:  Graham G.,  Colin T.,  Richard W.

Technology development is increasing at a very rapid rate.  Gordon Moore proposed in the mid 1960’s that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit at a reasonable cost doubles every 18 to 24 months. This trend in technological increase has been observed not only in transistors, but also in processor speed, memory capacity, and even pixel densities in digital cameras. However, some now fear that we are approaching the the physical limits of how small we can make these technologies, while still maintaining the same reliability. How long can this trend of unbounded growth continue?These technological increases are significant to many different aspects of the world including  businesses, education, communication, the “information grid,” and the digital divide between 1st and 3rd world countries. In industry, companies need to forecast what technologies will be available to them when they go to develop new products down the line. For instance, if a company plans to create a mobile device to be released 4 years from now, they need to draw up the specifications based the best components they will be able to find when they go into manufacturing, not the best parts currently on the market.  Educators need to be aware of different technologies as they come into existence, as they need to teach their students how to utilize new technologies in order to produce an efficient workforce.  The current divide between technological capabilities in 1st world countries and 3rd world countries is currently quite large, but as technology gets less expensive, will 3rd world countries continue to lag behind, or will they be able to catch up?

We are interested in testing whether Moores law holds in several different tech sectors.  Does Moore’s Law hold for processing power? How about memory capacity? What about pixel densities in cameras? All of these questions relate directly back to whether or not Moore’s law holds because they are the effects of the different areas the law affects. By looking at data over many years for these individual traits, we can compare how the number of transistors on a chip translates to the technologies that number is supposed to make better.

Data for these questions should be quite easy to obtain.  It isn’t very difficult to go online and find historic prices for different processors, hard drives and cameras.  What is difficult is determining what is reasonable as “the technology” for a given year.  For any given year, we will likely be able to find many processor and hard drive models on the market, so determining what a given year's “transistor count” or “cost per megabyte” may be much more difficult to ascertain.  We will need to come up with some method for averaging the prices for different models in a given year.

For each of our questions, we will compare the data on processing power, memory capacity and pixel densities to the number of transistors on an integrated circuit to see if the trend holds. We will do a two-sided test for our analysis for each technology. Our null hypothesis will be that we accept Moore’s Law, since it is merely an estimation of the advancement of technology and we can allow some tolerance if it does not hold precisely. Our alternate hypothesis will be that the Law does not hold and that it either overestimates or underestimates our ability to continue this growth.

We will also examine the errors that go along with our hypothesis tests. Type I Error would be concluding Moore’s Law doesn’t hold when it actually does. Type II Error would be concluding that Moore’s Law does hold when in fact it doesn’t.

References:

1. Long, Phillip D.  (May 2002).  Moore’s Law and the Conundrum of Human Learning.  Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0230.pdf

2.  Intel.  (February 2003).  Moore’s Law: Raising the Bar.  Retrieved from http://download.intel.com/museum/Moores_Law/Printed_Materials/Moores_Law_Backgrounder.pdf

3.  McCallum, John C. (2012). Memory Prices 1957 to 2012. Retrieved from http://www.jcmit.com/memoryprice.htm

4.  Wikipedia.  Moore’s Law.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law