Intel's processor history: the path from the Intel 4004 to the Pentium 4

Intel's processor history: the path from the Intel 4004 to the Pentium 4


How was that back then with Intel? Back when it all began? So that we can get you in the mood for our upcoming review of the latest Pentium 4 processors, we have set about reproducing the development and company history. Since our AMD Processor Roundup already looked back on the last few years of processor development more extensively than originally planned, this time we took the direct route and dedicate ourselves from the start to the history of Intel processors. Due to the far-reaching history of Intel, this should also be absolutely necessary in order not to provide readers with information about past processes in the actual processor reviewOverflowing processor generations. In the next few days, a review will try to clarify the last remaining questions. For now, this article is all about Intel's processors from 1971-2002. We deliberately avoid processors like the Xeon or Itanium, as this article is only intended to deal with the desktop CPUs. The only exception is the Pentium Pro, as it was not originally planned as a server processor.

1969/1971: The Intel 4004 is created

It all started with a simple work order from a Japanese company called Busicom. Intel was only supposed to develop chipsets for a programmable calculating machine and the Japanese company was thinking of a design made of twelve semiconductor components. But Intel's engineer Ted Hoff developed a design from just four chips, which the engineer Federico Faggin continued and finally combined all four chips on just one chip. In autumn 1971 the time had come and the 'Intel 4004' was completed. It only had a 4-bit data bus and was hailed as the “first computer on a single chip”. From today's perspective, it only had 108 kHz and only had 2,300 MOS transistors.

For those who want to know exactly: MOS stands for Metal Oxide Semiconductor and this in turn stands for the three-layer structure of a MOS -Transistors: 1. Metal as an electrical conductor 2. Silicon oxide as a non-conductive material and finally 3. Silicon as a semiconductor. At that time, production was still in 10 micron technology.

Incidentally, IBM brought the first floppy disk in 8 'format onto the market.

Intel 4004

On the next page: 1972: The Intel 8008