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Icons of Progress


The Invention of On-Demand Data

DRAM was more than a dramatic advancement; it represented a profound departure from existing memory technology. In this sense, moving ahead with MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor) was a breakaway as much as a breakthrough. Magnetic core random access memory had been a standard component within mainframe computers since the 1950s. Dennard saw the limitations of that approach, and with his vision, enabled the ongoing evolution of computers and information technology.

Dennard’s scaling principles

While Gordon Moore became famous for predicting how fast the computer chip would diminish in size, it was Robert Dennard who proposed accompanying performance improvements and how they could be achieved. After he received a patent for inventing dynamic random access memory, Dennard and his team co-wrote a paper that laid out the technical requirements for improving upon DRAM through the process of scaling. Over the years, memory manufacturers have followed through on Dennard’s concepts, advancing the solid-state-of-the-art in dynamic random access memory by making the semiconductor smaller and faster, with greater storage capacity and lower cost. The IBM group’s initial paper, entitled, Design of Ion-Implanted MOSFET’s with Very Small Physical Dimensions, was first published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The document is widely recognized as a foundational treatise in the electronics and computer industries.