TODAY Intel is celebrating the 40th birthday of the world's first microprocessor, the Intel 4004.
Microprocessors are the logic circuits inside computers, servers, phones, cars, cameras, refrigerators, radios, TVs and many other everyday devices. The proliferation of microprocessors is due in large part to Intel's relentless pursuit of Moore's Law, a forecast for the pace of silicon technology development that states that roughly every two years semiconductor transistor density doubles, while increasing functionality and performance and decreasing costs.
That fact has driven the business model of the semiconductor industry for more than 40 years.
Compared to the Intel 4004, today's second-generation Intel Core processors have more than 350,000 times the performance and each transistor uses about 5,000 times less energy. In this same time period, the price of a transistor has dropped by a factor of about 50,000.
Intel chief technology officer Justin Rattner said, "The sheer number of advances in the next 40 years will equal or surpass all of the innovative activity that has taken place over the last 10,000 years of human history."
Future microprocessors developed on Intel's next-generation 22nm manufacturing process are due out in systems starting next year. Intel claims they will deliver even more energy-efficient performance as a result of the company's breakthrough 3D Tri-Gate transistors that make use of a new transistor structure.
Intel said these transistors usher in the next era of Moore's Law and make possible a new generation of innovations across a broad spectrum of devices.
The chipmaker said that these advances in chip technology are "paving the way for an age when computing systems will be aware of what is happening around them, and anticipate people's needs." It added that in the future, context-aware devices ranging from PCs and smartphones to cars and televisions will be able to advise people and guide them through their day in a manner "more like a personal assistant than a traditional computer".
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