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Newbie's guide to the CPU

The processor was originally invented to help speed up computer math calculations."

The CPU (central processing unit) was invented in the early 1980’s by the Intel company. The processor was originally invented to help speed up computer math calculations. This would help computers advance to become what we know them to be today, which is the most complex, and yet most simple thing ever built by man.

Today, most CPU's and other silicon products and manufactured in Taiwan. They are made using extremely state of the art equipment. They are made in places called “clean rooms” which are static, lint, and dust free. First, a wafer of silicon is brought down an assembly line. Next, small squares are stamped out about the size of an average finger nail. Next, they would embed (using extremely fine equipment) millions of small etchings onto the wafer. These small etchings are called “transistors” which are used to carry data throughout the processor.

The “transistor” on a CPU is a small etching on a piece of silicon. They are mainly used to carry the electrical impulses, or calculations the processor needs to perform. The average size of a transistor made by Intel is currently built using a .25 micron (1 micron is about 1/100th the size of a piece of paper) fabrication process. By late June 1999 Intel should start to build CPU's using the newer .18 micron fabrication process. This will enable us to build faster more powerful CPU's without problems

On the average CPU about 8.2 million transistors would populate a piece of silicon about the size of a small finger nail. According to Moore's law of computers, the average number of transistors doubles every 18-24 months. On some of Intel's newer Pentium III CPU's they store about 9.5 million transistors on a small piece of silicon. The Pentium pro (the predecessor to the Pentium II) was a monster of a processor. This chip had nearly 15.5 million transistors (on 2 wafers), built using the older .35 micron fabrication process. This was not a good idea because, the larger the fabrication process uses much more power, which creates more heat which in turn can damage a CPU through electromigration.

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