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Commit to Memory

By Jessie Frazelle

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 63 No. 6, Pages 38-41

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CPUs are made up of billions of teeny, tiny transistors. Transistors are electrical gates that can be switched on and off individually. Since each transistor can be in two distinct states (on or off), it can store two different numbers: zero and one. With billions of transistors, a chip can store billions of zeros and ones, and almost as many ordinary numbers and characters. The smaller the transistor, the less power is required for a chip to function.

You might have heard of AMD's 7nm chips or Intel's 10nm chips. A nanometer (nm) is a useful metric for judging how powerful a CPU is since it denotes the measurement of transistor size (or linewidth).


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