Standard CMOS silicon transistors will stop in about 15 years when we need to move to new ways to scale and get faster computers

The CTO of Broadcom believes that standard CMOS transistors will stop scaling around 5 nanometers and networking speeds may not reach petabit speeds.

“Moore’s Law is coming to an end—in the next decade it will pretty much come to an end so we have 15 years or so,” Samueli told several dozen Silicon Valley technology veterans. “Standard CMOS silicon transistors will stop scaling around 5 nm and everything will plateau,” he said.

“I am comfortable we will get to terabit networking speeds, but I’m not sure I see a path to petabit speeds,” said the co-founder of one of the world’s largest communications chip companies. “You will see density of network switch boards leveling off and when you see the network progress level off it will change the dynamics of the entire industry,” he said.

Stacking chips into so-called 3-D ICs promises a one-time boost in their capabilities, “but it’s expensive,” said Samueli. Broadcom expects to use 3-D stacks to add a layer of silicon photonics interconnects to its high end switch chips, probably starting in 2015 or later, he said.

Another industry veteran and EE on a panel with Samueli took issue with the Broadcom exec’s predictions. “The real situation is we have 10-15 years visibility and beyond that we just don’t know how we will solve [the problems of CMOS scaling] yet,” said Dave House, chairman of switch maker Brocade and a veteran of 23 years at Intel.

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