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Chipping Away at Moore’s Law

date Mar 22, 2021
authors Jessie Frazelle
reading time 2 mins
category blog

Table of Contents



CPUs are made up of billions of teeny, tiny transistors. Transistors are electrical gates that can be switched on and off individually…Smaller transistors can do more calculations without overheating, which makes them more power efficient.

Multichip Module (MCM)

Traditionally, chip manufacturers connect two monolithic CPUs together in an MCM (multichip module). An MCM is a package with pins where multiple ICs (integrated circuits, or chips), semiconductor dies, and/or other components are integrated.


Using chiplets over monolithic die architecture guarantees no single core on a package will act as a single point of failure for the MCM since there are multiple individual cores.

Moore’s Law

Moore’s law observed that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every year, while the costs are halved. While this theory has held for a long time, it has been slowing down lately. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, transistors shrunk in size by half every two years, leading to massive improvements on a regular schedule.

Other innovations since slowing down of Moore’s Law

The slowdown of transistor size in semiconductor devices led to the development of multichip modules and other innovations, since semiconductor designers are always looking for new ways to provide increased compute capabilities.

First single chip microprocessor by Intel

In November 1971, Intel introduced the world’s first single-chip microprocessor, the Intel 4004. It had 2,300 transistors, ran at a clock speed of up to 740 KHz, and delivered 60,000 instructions per second while dissipating 0.5 watts. The following four decades witnessed exponential growth in compute power.


modern-day CPUs are actually just a few chiplets connected together into one package. The ability to construct packages of chiplets gives a Lego-like building power to people for designing their own MCMs and innovating faster.

7nm Manufacturing

Advantages of 7nm process

Compared with 14nm, 7nm can achieve 25 percent more performance under the same power, or the same performance for half the power. This means longer battery life for laptops and phones, and more power-efficient data centers, with the same performance.

Challenge in 7nm: Lithography

What makes 7nm manufacturing so capital intensive? Foundries need to increase their capital expenditures to deal with the technical difficulties of decreasing the size of transistors, among which lithography remains the biggest hurdle. Lithography, also known as photolithography, is the process used in microfabrication to pattern transistor circuits onto silicon.

Companies that have used 7nm chips

The companies that have built products with 7nm chips include AMD, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, NVIDIA, and Barefoot Networks. What all these companies have in common is the motivation to be on the bleeding edge of technology in order to remain or become a market leader.