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Intel celebrates 40 years since first CPU launch

Intel celebrates 40 years since first CPU launch

The Intel 4004 used only 16 pins to interface with the motherboard.

Today is a remarkable day for tech enthusiasts, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the Intel 4004 - the world’s first commercially available microprocessor.

The diminutive processor (die shot below) was the first single-chip CPU, and it possessed a heady maximum clock speed of 740kHz. The 4-bit CPU connected to the motherboard via only 16 pins and was capable of processing between 46,300 and 92,600 instructions per second.

This may sound like a lot but it pales in comparison to modern processors. Intel’s own LGA1155-based processors boast more than 350,000 times the performance of the 4004, for example, and each transistor within them uses roughly 5,000 times less energy than those found in the older chip.

In the same period of time the cost of microprocessor production has dropped dramatically, with the cost of a transistor reducing by a factor of about 50,000, despite a rapid increase in complexity.

These numbers are also only likely to increase, as new production processes enable manufacturers to produce ever more complex processor designs at ever smaller scales. Justin Ratner, Intel Chief Technology Officer is particularly bullish about the future, stating that ‘the sheer number of advances in the next 40 years will equal or surpass all of the innovative activity that has taken place over the last 10,000 years of human history.'

Were you around to see the launch of the Intel 4004? Does it boggle your mind to think how far we’ve come in a relatively small space of time? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

Intel celebrates 40 years since first CPU launch *Intel celebrates 40 years since first processor launchInside the Intel 4004 - click to enlarge

25 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Teh Noob Slayer 15th November 2011, 11:54 Quote
I was wondering if I should get this or Bulldozer? Close call?





:) *It's a joke!
yassarikhan786 15th November 2011, 11:56 Quote
Happy Birthday Intel and I hope you have many more :).
mamac123 15th November 2011, 11:56 Quote
lol, Core i7 3960X Extreme tbh
chemo 15th November 2011, 11:58 Quote
it'd be ineteresting to see if anyone was around when it was launched :)
Vo0Ds 15th November 2011, 12:05 Quote
4004 die shot + photoshop = new desktop background :-)
Spreadie 15th November 2011, 12:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chemo
it'd be ineteresting to see if anyone was around when it was launched :)

I was around then, just. Now I'm just round. :)
Pookie 15th November 2011, 13:55 Quote
Can it play Pac Man?
x5pilot 15th November 2011, 14:18 Quote
I share my 40th birthday with the 4004...
Hope I see the next 40 years which will surely be eye-watering!

Never really understood how it all ticks but this photo of the 4004 goes some way to help explain how it all ties together albeit on a much smaller scale.
kzinti1 15th November 2011, 16:55 Quote
Happy Birthday, INTEL! And many, many more.
R.I.P., AMD. You were still-born and have gone downhill ever since. BTW, you are also stinking up the world of computers with your various corpses. Please cremate yourself ASAP! You already practice self-immolation but you aren't thorough enough. You can't even get that right! :(
The_Beast 15th November 2011, 17:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Happy Birthday, INTEL! And many, many more.
R.I.P., AMD. You were still-born and have gone downhill ever since. BTW, you are also stinking up the world of computers with your various corpses. Please cremate yourself ASAP! You already practice self-immolation but you aren't thorough enough. You can't even get that right! :(

Nope, I love Intel but AMD keeps them in check with there prices



Long live AMD (to keep Intel cheap)
Snips 15th November 2011, 18:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Beast
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Happy Birthday, INTEL! And many, many more.
R.I.P., AMD. You were still-born and have gone downhill ever since. BTW, you are also stinking up the world of computers with your various corpses. Please cremate yourself ASAP! You already practice self-immolation but you aren't thorough enough. You can't even get that right! :(

Nope, I love Intel but AMD keeps them in check with there prices



Long live AMD (to keep Intel cheap)

I don't think that arguement has been valid for quite a few years now. If Intel HAD competition then maybe they could have helped keep the prices down. However, other than a true fan, I can't think of an enthusiast build that would have contained an AMD CPU over the last 4 years.

It's not trolling, it's a valid opinion that requires dicussion not name calling ladies and gents.
Nexxo 15th November 2011, 18:46 Quote
Fair comment. I still have a dual Opteron from the days that Intel made hideously hot and slow P4's. But their new CPUs since have the edge on TDP and speed.
tad2008 15th November 2011, 18:53 Quote
I was around just, tho far from old enough to appreciate such things, it wan't until the 8088 and 8086 CPU's and the advent of PC's in the home when I had the Amstrad PC1512 with a CGA monitor sporting a whole 16 colours, albeit on 4 at any one time, lol
Nexxo 15th November 2011, 18:56 Quote
Ah, memories... :)
Laitainion 15th November 2011, 20:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Beast
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Happy Birthday, INTEL! And many, many more.
R.I.P., AMD. You were still-born and have gone downhill ever since. BTW, you are also stinking up the world of computers with your various corpses. Please cremate yourself ASAP! You already practice self-immolation but you aren't thorough enough. You can't even get that right! :(

Nope, I love Intel but AMD keeps them in check with there prices



Long live AMD (to keep Intel cheap)

I don't think that arguement has been valid for quite a few years now. If Intel HAD competition then maybe they could have helped keep the prices down. However, other than a true fan, I can't think of an enthusiast build that would have contained an AMD CPU over the last 4 years.

It's not trolling, it's a valid opinion that requires dicussion not name calling ladies and gents.

The enthusiast/high end is far from the end of the story, I agree no one building a high end machine within the last year or so would really consider AMD but they are still around, and still sold processors competing with Intel at the mid to low end keeping those prices low through competition. I think this has acted like an anchor, Intel can't really just hike prices of the processors outside of AMD's reach as us enthusiasts will just ignore the rip offs and buy the top of the compettive end leave the rest. Intel therefore makes more money keeping the pricing reasonable in the competition-free high end as well.
Christopher N. Lew 15th November 2011, 21:07 Quote
Enthusiast prices are just plucked from thin air - to top Intel processor always seems to be $999. But all the millions of office PCs, that's where AMD have a market.

Oh, and I was around in 1971.
Sloth 15th November 2011, 21:12 Quote
Wow, forty years? It seems like such a long time ago, it's likely accurate to say that the majority of the world's population was born after its launch. Yet on the other hand it's interesting to keep in mind that PCs, in some form or another, will likely never go away and that even forty years later we're still in the early days.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1
Happy Birthday, INTEL! And many, many more.
It's just 40 years since the launch of their first (and the first) commercial CPU, Intel was around for a couple years prior.
Yemerich 15th November 2011, 21:21 Quote
I remember when I bought my pentium 100.
People use to call it "586".
Strange times back then...
Taffy 16th November 2011, 09:39 Quote
I remember 286's and the Ferranti F100- the first EMP hadened processor.
debs3759 16th November 2011, 23:45 Quote
Interesting specs for the 4004. It could access a mind staggering 640 bytes of RAM!

Intel microprocessors have almost followed Moores Law, which states that tranisitor count in processors would double every year. The actual figure over the last 40 years is only 50% of that, which is not a bad prediction :)
debs3759 16th November 2011, 23:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teh Noob Slayer
I was wondering if I should get this or Bulldozer? Close call?





:) *It's a joke!

It could be funnier than you think. As an investment, the C4004 (especially one with grey traces on the white ceramic packge) is one of the better choices anyone could make. Prices over recent years have gone up almost as fast as the number of transistors in current CPUs :)
debs3759 17th November 2011, 00:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vo0Ds
4004 die shot + photoshop = new desktop background :-)

I'll have to look up a couple of old links I had. I've seen much better die shots, with far more clarity and detail visible. If I find one of them I'll post it here. It won't need editing in photoshop (except maybe to reduce the resolution to fit your screen!).
SMIFFYDUDE 17th November 2011, 05:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by debs3759
It could be funnier than you think. As an investment, the C4004 (especially one with grey traces on the white ceramic packge) is one of the better choices anyone could make. Prices over recent years have gone up almost as fast as the number of transistors in current CPUs :)

Eeek £2,250 on ebay.
Teh Noob Slayer 17th November 2011, 11:46 Quote
The old,

the new : Intel Knights Corner one teraflops chip
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15758057
Pookeyhead 17th November 2011, 20:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by chemo
it'd be ineteresting to see if anyone was around when it was launched :)

I was around when it launched. I was only 3 though :)
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzinti1

R.I.P., AMD. You were still-born and have gone downhill ever since. BTW, you are also stinking up the world of computers with your various corpses. Please cremate yourself ASAP! You already practice self-immolation but you aren't thorough enough. You can't even get that right! :(

Ahh.. young padawan. How wrong you are. AMD have a long history of kicking Intel's butt. Not so long ago, the Barton chips were the OCer's weapon of choice, and until 3 years ago I had a FX60 which could kill anything Intel made from 10 paces. Conroe changed all that of course. They'll get back, and I hope they do, because without serious competition, the market will surely stagnate.
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