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Over the past 30 years, computing power for a given cost has increased at a rate of about 30% per year. This benefit is largely due to continuous technology development that has allowed the critical dimensions of transistors to be steadily reduced from 6 microns in 1971 to 0.13 microns today. The size reduction increases speed and it has been achieved without a pro-rata increase in cost. The reduction in transistor size is often called Moore's Law and it is now used as an international benchmark of industry progress.

The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) is a formal representation of the anticipated developments in semiconductor technology. The next 4 years are mapped out in some detail and approximate projections are made to 2014. It therefore provides a series of performance criteria that can be used to assess new and evolutionary technology on an objective and quantitative way.

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