FUN FACTS: EXACTLY HOW SMALL (AND COOL) IS 22 NANOMETERS?
The original transistor built by Bell Labs in 1947 was large enough that it was pieced
together by hand. By contrast, more than 100 million 22nm tri-gate transistors could fit onto
the head of a pin.
More than 6 million 22nm tri-gate transistors could fit in the period at the end of this
A 22nm tri-gate transistor’s gates that are so small, you could fit more than 4000 of them
across the width of a human hair.
If a typical house shrunk as transistors have, you would not be able to see a house without a
microscope. To see a 22nm feature with the naked eye, you would have to enlarge a chip to
be larger than a house.
Compared to Intel’s first microprocessor, the 4004, introduced in 1971, a 22nm CPU runs
over 4000 times as fast and each transistor uses about 5000 times less energy. The price per
transistor has dropped by a factor of about 50,000.
A 22nm transistor can switch on and off well over 100 billion times in one second. It would
take you around 2000 years to flick a light switch on and off that many times .
It’s one thing to design a tri-gate transistor but quite another to get it into high volume
manufacturing. Intel’s factories produce over 5 billion transistors every second. That’s
150,000,000,000,000,000 transistors per year, the equivalent of over 20 million transistors
for every man, woman and child on earth.
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1 A pin head is about 1.5 mm in diameter.
2 A period is estimated to be 1/10 square millimeter in area.
3 A human hair is about 90 microns in diameter.
4 The smallest feature visible to the naked eye is 40 microns.
5 Assumes a person can flick a light switch on and off 150 times per minute.
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