The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Number of Transistors on an Integrated Circuit

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Cutnell & Johnson. Physics 3rd Edition. Wiley, 1995: 763. "Today it is possible to combine arrays of thousands of transistors, diodes, resistors, and capacitors on a tiny chip of silicon that usually measures less than a centimeter on a side." ~1000
"Computer." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2001. http://encarta.msn.com, Microsoft Corporation, 1997-2001. "Modern microprocessors can contain more than 20 million transistors." >20,000,000
Sivitz, Laura. "When the Chips are Down." Science News, Vol 158, No. 2. 11/25/00: 350. "Today's computer circuits are packed with transistors- the newest Intel Pentium chip has 28 million of them." 28,000,000
Encyclopedia Britannica,Vol. 9. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1977: 661. "This integrated circuit contains approximately 3,000 transistors." 3,000
"Intel Announces Tiniest Transistor Yet." The Oregonian, 12/11/00. "The end result, the semiconductor giant said, will be a thumbnail-size computer chip with 400 million transistors operating at speeds up to 10 gigahertz."
400,000,000
Markoff, John. "Researchers Make an Ultra-Tiny Chip." New York Times, 06/10/01: A42. "That is more than 23 times the number of transistors used in Intel's current state-of-the-art Pentium 4 microprocessor, which has 42 million transistors and is capable of executing 1.7 billion instructions a second." 42,000,000

Integrated circuits are found in every technological device that we use today, from computers and calculators to watches and cellular phones. An integrated circuit (IC) is a tiny silicon chip, less than a centimeter in width. Among other things, the IC contains arrays of transistors that help process data. The more transistors there are in a circuit, the faster the data is processed. Modern technology has allowed data to be processed rapidly by increasing the number of transistors and decreasing the size of the IC.

The number of transistors has thus been changing over the years. In the 1970s, an IC might have approximately 3,000 transistors. Now, the number of transistors has reached 42 million. A theory developed in 1965, called Moore's Law, which predicted that the number of transistors in an IC would double every 18 months. So far, the predictions have proven fairly accurate, and according to scientists, they should remain accurate until the year 2014. What shall happen afterwards can only be guessed at.

Serafina Shishkova -- 2001