Gordon Moore: Sun should adopt Intel architecture

Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corp. and author of Moore’s Law of CPU performance improvements, said Tuesday that he wishes Sun Microsystems Inc. would adopt the Intel architecture.

Speaking prior to being honored as a “visionary” at a Software Development Forum awards ceremony recently, Moore, who is now retired, said Intel believes Sun would be best-served using Intel processors.

“We think they ought to use Intel processors,” Moore said. “So far, we haven’t been able to convince [Sun Chairman and CEO] Scott McNealy.”

Sun uses the Sparc RISC processor architecture. But Sun cannot get the volume economies that Intel can, since Intel ships far more chips than Sparc, thus giving Sun a “built-in cost disadvantage,” Moore said.

“It’s a matter of economics,” Moore said. Sun believes it might have to part with some of its proprietary technology to adopt Intel, he said.

Oddly enough, Sun reportedly is set to release its first Intel machine, a Linux-based server. Sun officials would not comment on the report this week.

Moore, who started Intel in 1968 and held titles ranging from executive vice president to CEO, also recalled the evolution of his Moore’s Law theory, the subject of a technical article he wrote in 1965. Originally, the theory stipulated that transistor chip density would double every 10 years. But with rapid advancements in technology, “I changed it to every two years after 10 years,” Moore said.

“[Moore’s Law has] kind of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy,” since chips would fall behind the technological curve if they did not have rapid advances in performance, he said.

Moore also noted that the increasing clock speed of chips means having to deal with heat issues. Heat, he said, “is starting to become a problem.”

“The main thing we’ve been able to do is lower the voltage,” from 5 volts to a single volt, Moore said.

“It’s going to take some clever design to get around the problems,” Moore said.