Sunday, September 11, 2011

How Intel Processors are MADE - From Sand to Transistors

45nm High-K Intel Core 2 Duo Processor containing 410 Million transistors in 2008

Do you own a computer? What is your processor? Computer processor had gone so many complex processes and testing before it is placed in our home and offices desktop. Compared with first and earlier computer, it is definitely faster, reliable, mobile (like laptop, netbook and tablets), more computing power and run at low power.

Intel's advanced chips and manufacturing are helping to bring together the best of computing, communications, and consumer electronics to enable broader and ever more valuable benefits from technology.

From Sand to Transistors

Sand which is abundant on beaches consist of silicon which is a semiconductor and the most common element on earth after oxygen. Silicon is one of semiconductor element (with resistance between insulator and conductor). This element can be altered to have a resistance between conductor and insulator. A semiconductor in turn can make transistors that makes up tiny logic gates that drives our computer processors which holds millions of transistors.

To make wafers, silicon is chemically processed so that it becomes 99.9999% pure. The purified silicon is melted and grown into long cylindrical ingots. The ingots are then sliced into thin wafers and polished until they have flawless, mirror like surfaces.

What is Moore's Law and Wirth's Law?

Moore's Law:
According to Moore's law "The number of transistors would double on computer chip every couple of year" and

Wirth's Law:
According to Wirth's law " Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware becomes faster"

Does it mean that every two years computers would be twice as speed in computing power? Does software speed can catch up with this law? Only time will tell, maybe in 10 years Moore's law is still applicable and further speed up of computing power is unnoticeable with Wirth's law.

How Intel Processors are Made?

The process of making chips is called Fabrication. Building circuits to form a computer chip is extremely precise and complex. It requires dozens of  layers of various materials in specific patters to simultaneously produce hundreds of thousands of die on each wafer.

Let's take a look how Intel processors are made.

From Sand silicon to processed Wafer

From Wafer die to coating of Photoresist and applying Utravilolet light

Etching, Cleaning and inspection of Metal interconnections

List of Intel Processors from 1970 to 2008

Below are the Intel's processors from the first 4004 microprocessors to Core 2 duo processor. The 4004 microprocessor delivered the same computer power as the ENIAC - the first computer which is 10 feet tall, with more than 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors, 6,000 switches, 18,000 vacuum tubes and approximately weighing 30 tons. It needs a lot of power which is 150 kilowatts to run.

Intel Processors from 1970 to 1980's. 1971: 4004 processor, 1972: 8008 processor1974: 8080 processor1978: 8086 processor1979: 8088 processor, 1982: Intel 286, 1985: Intel 386, 1989: Intel 486 

Intel Processors from 1990 to 2000's. 1993: Pentium processor, 1995: Pentium Pro, 1997: Pentium 2, 1998: Intel Celeron, 2000: Pentium 4, 2001: Itanium and Xeon processor, 2003: Itanium 2, 2006: Dual Core Itanium 2

Intel Making Silicon Chips

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mtrguanlao said...

I trust Intel!
Happy to see you again my friend :)

GbSb said...

Happy to see you too friend. Thanks for the post :)

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