Fifty years ago on April 19 1965, an article published by Gordon Moore predicted what might happen in the semiconductor industry over the span of a decade.

The observations that article contained formed the basis of Moore's Law - that the number of transistors on a silicon chip will double approximately every two years.

The 50th anniversary is a significant milestone, but has renewed speculation on how much life there is left in the law.

Type 'Moore's Law is' into Google and the first suggested auto-completion is 'dead'. Click on that and you get a mixed bag of articles arguing whether the law is deceased.

Graham Tucker, a technical manager at Intel A/NZ, has seen these premature obituaries written for Moore's Law before.

"When we came out with 32nm [nanometer process technology] there was the same level of uncertainty about how we get to 22nm and beyond," Tucker told Information Age.

"It was almost inconceivable how we were going to get there, so I don't think the uncertainty looking forward is any different to what we've seen in the past.

"There are physical limits and we're doing research in a number of areas. but in the next 5-10 years we believe silicon's still the major vehicle for shipping volume microprocessors."

According to The Economist, "news of the death of Moore's Law has always been greatly exaggerated".

However, it notes the physics and economics that underpin the law will cause Intel some future challenges. Physicists including Michio Kaku have previously raised similar concerns.

Tucker acknowledges that there is some uncertainty in the longevity of Moore's Law.

The path beyond current-generation 14nm is to move to 10nm, 7nm and eventually 5nm process technology - but Tucker does not see the challenges in getting there as insurmountable.

"I've been with Intel 26 years and each time we come up with a new process technology there's always challenges," he said.

"To get to 22nm from 32nm there were major lithography changes and breakthroughs to make that happen.

"We've gotten better at solving these types of challenges over time."

Rewarding times

Tucker has seen at least three anniversaries of Moore's Law come and go.

"I think what's changed from decade to decade is the diversity [of applications of silicon technology]," he said.

"It's very rewarding that we can keep Moore's Law going despite the challenges that we're faced with."

Tucker notes that without the progression of Moore's Law, innovations such as the cloud and large-scale web applications may not have materialised.

"I think at the anniversary of Moore's Law, it's a reminder of some of the core stuff that we do that makes a difference."