Intel Microprocessor Transistor Count

Intel Microprocessor Transistor Count

Proof Point

Single chip transistor counts have increased exponentially in past decades, though rates has decreased recently

Intel Microprocessor Transistor Count

1971 – 2016 (logarithmic scale)

Proof Point Findings

  • Moore's Law – Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted in 1965 that the number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months; or put simply, processing power of computers will double every two years
  • Widespread Acceptance – Moore's Law became basis of semiconductor industry's road map, helping coordinate new microprocessor production and device development
  • Rapid Transistor Count Increase – From 1971 until 2016, single microprocessor transistor count increased by more than three million times
  • Importance of Small, Powerful Chips – Exponential growth in microprocessor power enabled most of today's technological advancements, including personal computers, artificial intelligence, and Internet-of-things
  • Rate of Growth Slowing Down – Between 1995 and 2006, transistor count was increasing 68% annually, however it has slowed down to 16% annually between 2006 and 2016
  • Technical Limitations – Near atomic size of transistors make it difficult for manufacturers to cram more in each microprocessor; too many transistors on a microprocessor also results to overheating
  • Growing Importance of Other Processing Technologies – More complex computing jobs, like networking or simulations, can be better handled by graphics processing units (GPUs) or quantum computers



Date Last Updated

February 6, 2017

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