Enjoyable Information: Intel’s Sandy Bridge Processors

At this time last year we published a story with some interesting facts about Intel's first 32 nm manufacturing technology at the time. For example, we learned that a 32 nm transistor can be turned on and off over 300 billion times in a second. Conversely, it would take a person 4,000 years to turn a light switch on and off as often. In a similar way, Intel compared the pace of innovation in space. Had it been increasing at the pace of Moore's law since 1971, you could now travel at the speed of light, 671 million miles an hour.

For the start of their 2nd generation core CPUs (a.k.a. Sandy Bridge), Intel has compiled another interesting list with interesting facts in a white paper. We have selected those we find more amusing and are republishing them here with Intel's permission:

  • There is almost 1 billion transistors in a 2nd generation Intel Core processor. If a car had 1 billion parts – compared to the current 30,000 – it would take the most productive automaker 114 years to assemble that car.
  • If a processor were a country and its transistor count was the population of a country, a 2nd generation Intel Core processor would be the third largest country in the world (995 million +) just behind China and India.
  • A 2nd generation Intel Core processor contains 540 million more transistors than the number of registered vehicles in the European Union, the United States and the Asia-Pacific region combined.
  • If you equate the power consumption of a laptop based on 2nd generation Intel Core processors with an electric clothes dryer, drying a charge for 60 minutes is equivalent to operating a laptop for 147 hours or 6 days and 2.4 hours. If you compare the processor to an electric oven. Baking a pizza for 45 minutes at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) is equivalent to operating 67 laptops for 50 hours.
  • If every house in the US had 30 light switches, the new chips would take about 1 nanosecond to turn on all 3.57 billion light switches.
  • Compared to the first microprocessor from Intel, the 4004, which was introduced in 1971, a 32 nm CPU runs more than 4,000 times as fast and each transistor consumes about 4,000 times less energy. The price per transistor has dropped by a factor of 100,000.
  • The Intel Core processor is printed on very pure silicon, which is refined from ordinary beach sand. The sand that you once stepped on the beach can now supply your notebook with electricity.
  • The 2nd generation Intel Core processor family is considered by analysts to be one of Intel's most important product cycles. **

We tend to agree on this last bullet (and apparently yours too), although it sounds a lot like marketing.

As we found in our test last week, Sandy Bridge is in many ways a continuation of Intel's well-designed plan and not a revolutionary chip in terms of raw performance. However, the impact on mobile PCs this year and in the near future is significant. Finally neat integrated graphics and another big leap in efficiency. For the first time in over 2 years, I feel that replacing my laptop (beyond a highly recommended SSD upgrade) could definitely be worth it.

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