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An Info Visualization of Moore’s Law vs. Actual Microprocessor Transistor Count (1971-2019)

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 24, 2019

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors in dense integrated circuits would double each year for the next decade. In 1975, he revised his prediction to a doubling once every two years. And for the past 45 years, Moore’s Law has more or less held. This clever bar chart race visualization shows Moore’s prediction competing through the years with hundreds of real microprocessors, from Intel’s 4004 in 1971 to 2019’s newest CPUs and GPUs.

Check out the lull in the 90s, where the microprocessor industry falls behind Moore’s Law all the way from Intel’s 486 in 1989 to the release of Intel’s Itanium 2 McKinley chip in 2002. And then in the 00s, the chipmakers put their foot on the gas again, more than doubling up on Moore’s Law at times. I wonder if the 90s slump was due more to a lack of industry competition against Intel’s near monopoly…they simply didn’t need to increase the count as quickly with no real competitors breathing down their necks. Then in the 00s, competition flourished. If so, perhaps Moore’s Law should be regarded as just as much of a business prediction (or goal) as one about technology.