“The number of transistors in a processor will double approximately every 24 months.”
Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder
50 years ago, Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder decreed that the power of microprocessors would double every 24 months. Five decades later, this prediction continues to be true.
Over the investments in semiconductor manufacturing technology, Intel has made Moore’s Law a reality. Relying on his own observations and his calculations Gordon Moore had no idea that his law would last as long. In the mid 60s, the manufacturing process used silicon wafers with a diameter of 2 inches. Today, the wafers have of a diameter of 12 inches, and we the industry is on the verge of switching to 18-inch wafers. With a slump in production costs, a single transistor costs less than a billion times than 50 years ago. And a comical resulting enacted by Moore himself, who says that the number of transistors produced since finally exceeded the number of ants on Earth!
1969: an innovative response to an unusual demand
In 1969, the Japanese company Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation Intel approach to design a set of 12 chips for its new Busicom 141-PF calculator. Engineers from Intel respond by suggesting a family of only four chips, of which one would be programmable. This set of four chips known as the MCS-4 included a central processing unit (CPU) 4004, a read only memory (ROM) for custom applications programs, a random access memory chip (RAM) for data processing and an input / output (I / O) circuit.
1971: the beginning of the era of integrated electronics
With its 2,300 transistors Intel 4004 processor can be programmed for use in a variety of products. In this it differed from its predecessors and peers. After buying the rights of Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation, Intel launched the marketing of Intel 4004 processor and chipset with an advertisement in the issue of November 15, 1971 issue of Electronic News “heralding a new era in integrated electronics.”
The processor that gave birth to an industry
The 4004 has quickly become the first general purpose programmable microprocessor on the market and became the basic element around which the engineers could design of electronic devices of their own. About the size of a fingernail, the Intel 4004 processor provides the same computing power as the ENIAC, the first electronic computer built in 1946, which filled a whole room. To get an idea of the progress made since the launch of the Intel 4004, Intel Core processor contains 560 million transistors, is a factor of integration almost 250 000 times. The width of the circuits of the 4004 processor was 10 microns, or 10 000 nanometers. Today, the circuits of Intel microprocessors are between 45 and 32 nanometers wide. By comparison, the average human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide.
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