Jim Keller Plans to Sustain Moore’s Law by Stacking Chips

A lot of people say Moore’s law is dead, but CPU god Jim Keller thinks otherwise. Keller recently spoke to Wired on what he was up to at Intel and elaborated on a handful of technologies that could keep the theory going, at least to some extent.

The major one is stacking, whereby transistors or chips are built vertically and layered on top of one another. Intel’s upcoming Lakefield design utilizes this very technique, which is supposed to increase density dramatically.

He claimed this approach will keep power consumption down by shortening the distance between different parts of a chip. Keller said that using nanowires and stacking his team had mapped a path to packing transistors 50 times more densely than possible with Intel’s 10 nanometer generation of technology. “That’s basically already working,” he said.

Keller also mentioned extreme ultraviolet lithography, which can “etch smaller features into chips, and smaller transistor designs based on nano-scale wires.” Then there’s chiplets, whose benefits have been thoroughly demonstrated by AMD’s new Ryzen parts.

Doesn’t this mean that progress will be harder won, less predictable and more expensive? Keller describes the future differently: “Weirder and cooler,” he says.


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