how are CPUs made and other related things


* How are CPUs made?
* Who are the big players / future big players in the industry.
* Why is 3nm better than 14nm?
* What happens after you can’t go smaller e.g. 1nm, 0.5 nm, 0.25 nm, where is the end and what happens afterward?

In: 0

1. CPU are made in a fab using photolithography. Its likely tge most technically complex thing humans have ever accomplished so I’m not going to even attempt to describe every step. Fundamentally though the transistors and interconnects are 3-D printed onto a water of silicon.

2. Amd and Intel are the two big players in the PC marker. ARM is the only big player in mobile although ARM both designs and licenses its ISA (instruction set architecture) so a company like Apple can design its own chips using ARM instruction set. There’s some other players to in devices of reduced complexity.

3. 3nm is better simply because it’s smaller. That means you can pack more transistors onto a smaller area and with less energy demand per transistor.

4. Nobody knows what happens after we reach the end of shrinking transistors. Lots of companies are looking into many exotic new technologies, but none is anywhere close to market ready.

I’m probably a bit behind on the ever-evolving technology but:

1. The circuitry of a CPU is silicon etched in place with light. Search photolithography for details.
2. Intel, Qualcomm, and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC)
3. It takes less time for an electrical current to go 3nm vs 14nm, so the chip is faster, and the individual transistors are smaller so more can be fit in the same space.
4. We are rapidly approaching the point where the size of a silicon atom is becoming a limiting factor. A Silicon atom is roughly 0.2nm and you need an unbroken chain of them to form a circuit.

A silicone crystal is polished super smooth, then cut into thin squares. A super expensive very precise impossibly thin laser beam then burns a pattern into the crystal. This tricks the crystal into thinking when we run electricity through the pattern. If that makes a CPU sound like magic, then good! It basically is. We’re making atoms dance so we can look at cat pictures and yell racial slurs at people better than us in videogames.