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Intel and the Microprocessor

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Term Paper: History of Intel and its microprocessors
The microprocessor is a chip made of silicon that holds a central processing unit. Both the term’s central processing unit or CPU and microprocessor can be used and mean the same thing. The human brain has been compared to a microprocessor. Microprocessors are ultra fast calculators and what makes a microprocessor appear intelligent is the speed at which it can process data. The electronics industry names, microprocessors first by makers name and then model family name or number. A recent example, are the Intel Core i7 and AMD FX 8 Core Black Edition. Microprocessors provides scientist, engineers, architects, graphic designers, researchers, and other professionals with the processing power users to perform all the many functions needed to do their jobs and make new discoveries and explore what before could not have been even imagined. The history of microprocessors will be covered; this includes the history of Intel Corporation, important highlights in the development of the microprocessor.
All digital computers use electronic switches. These switches represent binary digits or bits. The first computers used vacuum tubes as switches to represent on-or-off binary data, but vacuum tubes had many problems. Without the invention of the transistor, microprocessors and the modern computer would not be possible. Bell Laboratory engineers John Bardeen and Walter Brattain invented the transistor in 1947 (transistor). Transistors consumed less power than vacuumed tubes and were microscopic in comparison, this allowed smaller, faster, and more reliable computers to be designed and used. The invention of transistors set the stage for the invention of the integrated circuit and then the microprocessor. The inventor of the first practical integrated circuit in 1959, was Robert Noyce. According to Berlin, “Robert Noyce has often been called the father of Silicon Valley (3).
In 1968, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, both engineers from the United States, founded Intel. Intel means integrated electronics, headquartered in California. Intel had a strong starting point by the backing of Arthur Rock, he invested $10,000 and raised $2.5 million (Intel Timeline, 1968). Arthur Rock became the first Chairman of the Intel. In 1969, Intel began by selling computer memory, this included the world’s first metal oxide semiconductor known as 1101 (256 bit static random-access memory, SRAM) but it did not sell as the company had envisioned (Intel Corporation). During this time in the development of computer technology, Magnetic-core memory was the standard memory used in computers and had been since 1952 (computer memory). In 1970, Intel released a one-kilobyte chip known as the 1103. The 1024 bit chip was one of the first dynamic random access memory modules. In that era 1kb chip was an impressive achievement and also provided faster speeds than the magnetic core memory. The 1103 was priced at 1 cent/bit and cost about $10, this was a competitive advantage over the Magnetic-core memory that cost $1 per bit (magnetic core memory). As a result, DRAM became the new standard for computer memory. In 1971, Intel became a pubic company (Intel Corporation). According to Intel’s official website, “In 1969, Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation approached Intel to design twelve custom chips for its new Busicom 141-PF printing calculator. Intel engineers suggested a family of just four chips, including one that could be programmed for use in a variety of products, setting in motion an engineering feat that dramatically altered the course of electronics (Story of the 4004).”
In 1971, Intel completed designing the four chips they were commissioned to design for NCMC. This set of four chips included the worlds first 4-bit central processing unit (CPU) chip – the 4004. The 4004 microprocessor was the first programable microprocessor for commercial use. The microprocessor chip was as small as a penny and carried the same processing power as, Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer or ENIAC, the first electronic computer that required an entire room. As a result Engineers could purchase the microprocessor and modify it using software to execute custom functions and could be used within a variety of unique electronic devices (Story of the 4004). In 1972 Intel released the 8008, the first 8-bit microprocessor with 3500 transistors. It was used in dumb terminals, general calculators and other devices used to for data/character manipulation (Intel 8008 Support Page). In 1974, Intel released its second 8-bit CPU known as the 8080. This microprocessor held 4,500 transistors making it more than ten times faster than the Intel 4004 microprocessor that held 2,300 transistors, the speed of the 8080 allowed it to be used in hundreds of products including the first personal computers kit the Altair 8800 (Intel Timeline, 1975). The design of the 8080 laid the foundation for the 8086 microprocessor architecture, which gave rise to the x86 family of processors. By this time Intel had changed its focus from designing memory chips to the business of designing and selling microprocessors (Intel Corporation). The 8086 were the first 16-bit microprocessor. In 1978, IBM selected the 8088 for their new line of mass produced PC computers. Many electronics experts agree by saying that the 80386 a 32-bit microprocessor, released in 1985, was a true landmark in the history of microprocessors. Even today all microprocessors are backward compatible. The significance is older software can execute on newer computers. In 1990, Robert Noyce passes on at the age of 67 from a heart attack. According to Arthur Rock, “Bob believed it was his duty to leave the world a better place than he found it (Intel Timeline, 1990).” In 1993, Intel produced the 32-bit Pentium processor. This family processor is famous for being the first to offer parallel processing. Parallel processing allows multiple threads of instructions to be processed simultaneously. The Pentium processor held 3.1 million transistors and this greatly improved the speed of the modern computer. In fact, the Pentium was 300 times faster than the 8088 microprocessor that had 29,000 transistors. The Pentium processor made possible advanced graphics on PC computers and with the release of Windows 3.x resulted a booming PC market (Intel Timeline 1990). Intel’s business strategy has always been to produce faster processors with each release, the primary factor being to increase the number of transistors. Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel observed the number of transistors doubles nearly every two years. In 2008, Intel released Core 2 Quad, and it has 800,000,000 transistors. The 2012, Itanium 9500, has 3,100,000,000 transistors. In 2014, Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge-EX, has 4.6 billion transistors. By the end of the 20th Century Intel’s processors were in most personal computers, except Apple Macintosh computers. Apple had used CPUs produced by Motorola since 1984. In 2005, Steve Jobs made the announcement that Apple computers would use Intel processors (Intel Corporation). Today Intel processors can be found in nearly all personal computers. Intel turned 46 years old in 2014 and the company is ranked 61 on the Forbes 500 list. In conclusion, a quote from the book The man behind the microchip, Berlin says, “ Before there was the internet and cellphones and personal computers and scientific calculators and notebook computer and personal digital assistants and pocket calculators and cruse control and digital watches and pacemakers and ATMs and motion detectors and digital cameras and video games—before all these inventions, and the electric heart of all these, is a tiny device called the integrated circuit (3).” Robert Noyce, a PhD graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was not only the inventor of the first practical integrated circuit but he was also a visionary who led the way for the explosion of new technologies and the electronics industry which has revolutionized every aspect of life.

Work Cited:

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Berlin, Leslie. The Man Behind The Microchip. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.

“Intel Timeline.” History of Innovation. www.intel.com., 2014. 07 Dec. 2014 <http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/history/historic-timeline.html>

"Intel Corporation." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <http://academic.eb.com/EBchecked/topic/289747/Intel-Corporation>.

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