There are teeth, are the transistors that are in our computers. Some of them, of course, as are usually found in groups of billions in each processor. Specifically 1.300 million of them in the latest chip from Intel, the Core M submitted this month of September and inaugurate a new generation: Broadwell, with the first 14-nanometer transistors.

And it is precisely the transistor and its manufacturing process the protagonists of today’s article: discuss the impact of nanometers and its importance in the new products. The last jump was going from 22 to 14 Broadwell, what implications does this development in our next computer?

TechThe race of nanometers

Transistors are the basic minimum unit of a processor, and in general any electronic device. Transistor can emulate the basic behavior of a bit, with states 0 and 1, as no permits or the passage of energy through it. Taking one or more transistors can create a logic gate to perform simple math, and one or more logic gates basic low-level operations that are managing the machine instructions are emulated code.

The transistor can emulate the behavior of a bit basic, with states 0 or 1 according to pass or not power for him.

The current technique has allowed to create transistors that are impossible to see without microscopic electronic. These 14 nanometers have been preceded by 22 and by 32 before and 45, 65, 90 … so to 10,000 nanometers (10 microns) that began with the first Intel chips of the market, the 4004 and 8008 71 and 72 years, who commented career x86 architecture.

But of course not only the CPU has transistors. In fact, virtually any electronic component uses these tiny components, although the races happen at different rates depending on the evolution and the interest of the various manufacturers of each product category.

So Intel CPU leads the ranking with 14 nanometer Broadwell, NVidia and AMD are on par graphics processors, about to make the jump to 20 nanometers, and is the market leader Crucial (for now) in NAND with its SSD 100 MX in 16 nanometers. Similarly, the smartphone and tablet SoC also have their particular match, currently 28 nanometers but with the 20 expected by 2015.

Looking ahead transistors will remain essential in our computers. Intel already has programmed evolution 10, 7 and even nanometers over the next five years, following tick-tock model explained later. Although the above provisions may seem an insignificant graphic enhancement, zoom in on it will allow us to state that evolution continues:

Looking at a more long-term future of the transistors is still uncertain. Quantum computing is one of the main avenues of current research . However this possibility is contemplated a still somewhat distant future, some say ten years and others speak that within several decades.

Current research encourage us to think that the future is quantum computing. There are many questions about how this evolution will, still need several decades to be part of our daily lives.

From 22 to 14 nanometers, what changes imply?

Every time a new generation of processors is presented with a jump in the manufacturing process, happen the same set of improvements in the final performance, which after all the users see and ‘palpate’:

The most representative is, in general, an overall improvement in performance occurs. In other words, the new chips are faster. To what extent? It is difficult to quantify, but Intel says that between 45 nanometers in 2007 and 14 in 2014 have managed to double the performance. Among them, four generations and be a near linear improvement.

This improvement in performance comes together with another decisive factor in the world of computers, and even more in recent years in which mobility is essential: energy consumption is less, so get both save money on our bill end of the month as laptops achieve greater autonomy. In turn, lower energy consumption means more power per watt, which is the ratio that is used often when comparing several generations.

More power, lower energy consumption and smaller: Broadwell-Y occupies almost half the size of the Haswell-Y Directly related to the transistors, if they are smaller so will be the size of the chip. In this last jump of 22-14 nm the difference is actually quite remarkable, as shown in the picture that you have below. Intel has reduced to almost half the size between Haswell-Y and-Y last Broadwell, the code name for Intel Core M.

As it is pure evolution: improving with each new iteration

These implications are repeated every time that evolves the size of transistors used in the chips, although with varying degrees of improvement as the generation. In the case of Intel, its 14 nanometer part of the tick tick-tock model, the task of improving the process of evolution.

The other component of the model, proposed in 2007, is the tock, consisting of a general evolution of architecture to give rise to a new micro architecture optimized on the basis of the above. He alternates tick and tock, usually every year, so that if one year to the next smaller transistors that generation gets used and optimized to get the maximum performance. The Broadwell tick of 14 nanometers will be followed by the tock Skylake 2015 to 2016 and have a new 10 nanometer called tick Cannonlake.

Of course the transistors are not the only factor that affects the maintenance of developments in the field of processors. They are no doubt important, but also the software is another essential section. Systems of automatic frequency control mechanisms of the energy factor or new instruction sets that are adapting the hardware to new uses of technology, are also essential to maintain the current pace of improvement.

Year after year, the evolution of processors continues its pace and promise to continue giving much war for decades.

The processors are still alive and improving year by year thanks in part to the transistors. These microscopic elements that we all have a few million in your computer, your smartphone or our tablet. And promise to continue giving much war for decades.