Intel has lost Moore's Law and is offering a $10,000 bounty to anyone who can provide information leading to its return.
The loss of the Law comes as a tough blow to a company that has built its entire business around the fulfilling this single hypothesis, famously postulated by the company's co-founder, Gordon Moore, in 1965. Over the years, the Law has become less a scientific principle and more an article of faith. Gordon might yet be proved wrong, but Intel is damned if it's not going to double silicon-chip transistor counts every 18 months or so, no matter what.
And yet it's gone missing, here one minute, gone the next.
"We had it a while ago," one staffer told us, "and then it was gone. Maybe it's fallen behind the fridge. I think Andy Grove had it last."
Another insider commented: "I heard we lost it last year sometime. It's probably why they had to cancel 'Tejas'. If AMD gets to hear about this, we're f**ked."
For 40-odd years, Moore's tiny Law has held up the growing weight of the entire Intel corporation. Only by the firm's immense corporate will - mind over don't-matter, you might say - and frequent blasts of hot air from the marketing department has the mighty edifice remained upright.
"If it gets out the Law's been lost, Intel acolytes everywhere could lose their faith and the whole lot would come crashing down," one insider said. "It would be a metaphysical disaster. How could we continue? Fabs would just vanish into thin air - or maybe tax-efficiency schemes."
We understand, however, the CEO-elect Paul Otellini has purchased a large net and is going to try and catch the company if it falls.
And further hope is at hand. One bright spark has offered $10,000 to eBay users in a bid to persuade them to locate a mint-condition copy of the original publication of the Law, in the 19 April 1965 edition of the late, lamented Electronics.
It's a bold move. "Last time we tried something like this, we sent off our Amex number and all we got back was a tatty, Jolt-stained copy of some old 64-bit programming manual," an insider said. "It was sold by someone called Hector.
"Our PayPal account's been empty ever since. And I'd be really keen on getting my hands on a genuine Steve Jobs action figure, too. Only four were ever made, you know." ®