Hot Chips

Hardware nerds are hot

September 28, 2009: 10:00 AM ET

Changes in computing mean software companies need hardware-savvy employees

By Sam Blackman, CEO and co-founder, Elemental Technologies

Blackman: Your next hire might need hardware chops.

Blackman: Your next hire might need hardware chops. Photo: Elemental Technologies

Whether we knew it or not, we've all been relying on something called "Moore's Law."  Back in the 1960s, Intel (INTC)  co-founder Gordon Moore noticed that the number of transistors that could cheaply be placed on an integrated circuit had been doubling every two years.

That meant that central processing units, or CPUs — the chips that drive computer performance — were getting twice as fast in that same time period. That amazing rate of technological change has held up for more than 40 years.

Moore's Law is why we take it for granted that the cell phone we carry around today is more powerful (and cost us less) than the top-of-the-line desktop computer we bought ten years ago. It is also why we're not surprised that in less than a decade the Web has changed from a place to look at ugly text pages to a place to watch high-definition TV shows.

But after 40 years, Moore's Law is slowing down. More

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