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Moore’s Law In Pictures: An Illustrated History of the Microprocessor

Moore’s Law In Pictures: An Illustrated History of the Microprocessor
Paving The Way To Sandy Bridge

Its a rule so basic that it should be the first one you learn in Computing History 101: “The number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.” While Moore’s law (postulated by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore in 1965) isn’t ironclad--over time, chip performance has doubled at rates varying from one year to three years, and very well may slow further in coming years--it has held up pretty well for nearly half a century.

But Moore’s basic premise impresses us just as much now as it did when we first learned of it. Consider the orders of magnitude (and sheer manufacturing prowess) required to morph the very first 4-Bit microprocessors into the multicore monstrosities we use today in our home PCs and various enterprise systems.

We decided to take some time to remember the race to produce those early chips--what they looked like, who designed them, and what they could accomplish--as well as the important ones that paved the way across several decades to Sandy Bridge. For a chart depicting the predictable increases in transistor count for each noteworthy chip, we point you to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

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