The PC Plateau: Is Moore’s Law Still Relevant?

During the past decade, one of the more popular conversation topics in hardware was the idea that PC components had reached a plateau, that is, that manufacturers had squeezed every ounce of power they could out of computer chips, and there was nowhere else to go. Evidently, that wasn’t true, and we’re still seeing improvements in graphics and processing power even now. 

Moore’s Law

The question is, how? Conversations on this topic inevitably come back to something called Moore’s law, which suggests that the number of transistors in a circuit doubles every two years. In other words, this 1965 rule basically means that components get faster and cheaper on a regular basis. In theory, the only thing that limits this process is the laws of physics, as there’s a limit to how small transistors (or anything) can get.

A good example of the previous is, obviously, the mobile phone. Today, it’s possible to play just about any game on an iOS or Android device without any problems at all. Even traditional console and PC offerings like Assassin’s Creed, FIFA, Grand Theft Auto, and Minecraft can be found in the various app stores. There are actually representatives from other gaming industries on mobile phones, too, though, like casino and bingo, making a case for technology’s constant improvement. 

In the latter case, the MrQ website recommends its 90-ball bingo for iOS and Android devices so that players can take the experience on the road. It’s also offered as free bingo. These kinds of games take advantage of HTML5 technology to keep the game consistent across different phones. Of course, it’s also possible to play bingo and other games on desktop computers.

Distributed Computing

Mobile phones are Moore’s law in action, but if transistors can’t get any smaller, the rule will effectively die – and it’s not hard to find articles online proclaiming this outcome. Moore’s law also suffers because smaller chips come with a huge financial burden ($170-$500m), which makes creating them a difficult and/or undesirable task. It’s worth mentioning that Moore said that the cost of a chip factory doubles every four years, as well. 

With all that in mind, Moore’s law seems doomed. In fact, its survival may hinge on how flexible it can be. For instance, it’s entirely possible for computers, consoles, and mobile phones to become cheaper and more powerful without changing the number of transistors in a circuit. This might come about due to software advances, distributed and cloud computing, and machine learning. While that might not describe Moore’s law in its truest sense, it still produces the same outcome. 


Unfortunately, we are already seeing a slowdown in a related area of computing – graphics. The world is still some way off creating photorealism in games, especially when it comes to tricky things like hair and fur (Fenrir, the dog in the 2022 game God of War: Ragnorak, looks a little janky from time to time), but graphics have already reached the point of diminishing returns. We simply don’t see the huge leaps in fidelity that happened in the 1990s and 2000s.

Overall, Moore’s law can still be relevant if we want it to – but there’s no denying that chip manufacturers may face both financial and technological barriers in the coming years.

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