The invention of the solid-state transistor in the 1950s transformed the electronics and computing industries, and later, human society as a whole. The innovation and refining within the semiconductor manufacturing process drove the so-called "Third Industrial Revolution" from the 1950s to the 2000s.

Gordon Moore, founder of Intel, analyzed the rapid development trends within the computing industry and saw that the power of state-of-the-art processors effectively doubled every 18 months (by reducing the "feature-size" of the transistor). This observation – now famously and endearingly referred to as "Moore’s Law" – has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for the computing industry.

Indeed, the industry has perfected the "Two-Year Development Cycle" by setting internal targets and striving to meet the expectation predicted by Moore.

However, Moore’s prediction has a fundamental limit. In the past, this "doubling" of computing power has been achieved by shrinking the size of the transistor. Within the industry, each of these jumps is referred to as a "technology node." Having started as a palm-sized lab experiment, the modern transistor is now on the order of nanometers, and is quickly approaching its fundamental limit: the size of an atom.

Chinese Flag by Alejandro Luengo is licensed under Unsplash

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Washington Exposé