The chip size of a mobile phone processor is about the size of a thumb nail, but a small chip can hold tens of billions of transistors. The mobile phone processor A14 in the iPhone 12 is equipped with a 5-nanometer process and integrates 11.8 billion transistors.
Can such a small chip really hold tens of billions of transistors?
A nanometer (nm) is a unit of length, and one nanometer is equal to 10 minus 9 square meters, which is a very small unit of length. Mount Everest is 8,848 meters high, one millionth of its height, only the thickness of a book. And 1 nanometer is equivalent to one millionth of a millimeter. A single bacterium is invisible to the naked eye because its diameter is in the micrometer scale, and 1 nanometer is one thousandth of a micrometer.
The hydrogen atom is the smallest of the atoms, its radius is about 0.037 nanometers, and the length of 13 hydrogen atoms arranged in a line is about 1 nanometer. The current mobile phone CPU is a silicon-based chip, and the diameter of the silicon atom is 0.234nm, and the length of 4 silicon atoms is 1 nanometer in a row.
1 nanometer is so small, then it is easy to understand that it is possible to integrate 10 billion transistors on a small mobile phone chip.
When the world’s first computer, Eniac, appeared, it was bigger than a room. In 1958 Jack Kilby invented the integrated circuit based on silicon, and later Robert Noyce invented the integrated circuit based on silicon. Engineers built transistors directly on a silicon wafer, and microcircuits (chips) were born. In order to reduce power consumption and improve performance, integrated circuits have more and more transistors, and components are made smaller and smaller.
Now the chip manufacturing process has already entered the nano-era from the micro-era. The CPU of mobile phones and computers is the most integrated chip. Now, the area of a mobile phone CPU is about 100 square millimeters, and one square millimeter can integrate at least 10 million transistors.
With the improvement of microelectronics technology, the silicon-based chip manufacturing process has entered the era of several nanometers from tens of nanometers in just a few years. At present, the manufacturing process of integrated circuits has reached the 5-nanometer level, and the Apple A14 processor uses TSMC’s 5-nanometer manufacturing process. However, the scale of components is approaching the limit. To improve the performance of the chip, you can only find other methods, such as carbon-based semiconductors.
Nanotechnology is the study of the properties and applications of materials with a structure size in the range of 1 to 100 nanometers.
The concept of nanotechnology was first proposed by physicist Richard Feynman in 1959. It was not until 1981 that scientists invented the scanning tunneling microscope, and they had the ability to see atoms and molecules at the nanoscale, and then have the ability to manipulate individual atoms.
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