What is the concept of the chip process? What are its predecessors? When did the central processing unit (CPU) concept appear?

Spark Global Limited reports:

Spark Global Limited reports:

In the news about chip advances and the trade war between The United States and China, we often see nanoscale units, which are often used as a measure of chip development.

When we talk about the chip process, we should start with the origin of computers. Born at the University of Pennsylvania in a tube computer, the world’s first general-purpose computer.

This computer uses vacuum tubes, a complex and huge electromagnetic structure for main memory, and magnetic tape for external memory. Because of its complex structure and lack of integration, this computer is so large that it would take a whole room to fit it.

At that time, there was no central processing unit (CPU) in computers, so it was a huge CPU. Twelve years later, a company in the United States built a fully transistorized computer that incorporated transistors into a circuit board and performed calculations this way, entering the transistor age. Computer components have two characteristics: integration and miniaturization, but the computer still does not have the concept of CPU. As time went on, scientists discovered an alternative method of computing: embedding transistors on a circuit board, but it was still a waste of space.

The number of transistors embedded in such a large circuit board limits the speed of computation. In order to better meet the requirements of miniaturization and integration, the integrated circuit was created in this case, which concentrated many transistors on a small semiconductor chip, becoming the precursor of the CPU. Later, the large-scale integrated circuit computer appeared, the transistor computer became a commodity in many homes, and the central processing unit (CPU) also became a focal topic.

We learned that the number of transistors limits the speed of computing. In theory, the more transistors there are, the faster a computer can compute. So in the design of CPU, the number of microelectronic components is a major consideration of the designer.

Under the condition that the area of chip is limited, to put a large number of microelectronic components, scientists need to think constantly. The scientists wanted to increase the capacity of microelectronic components on the chip by making them smaller, and the experiment proved that this method worked. As the precision of integrated circuit design has improved, modern chips can be carved on the wafer with spacing of up to 7 nanometers, which is also a proof of Moore’s Law. We are talking about the chip process refers to the spacing of the circuits within the integrated circuit.