Intel 4004 Internals

The silicon wizards at Flylogic have certainly posted an interesting chip this time around. The Intel 4004 was the first widely used microprocessor. The logic gates are much larger than you’d find in modern chips. The unique feature is that each gate is designed to make the most efficient use of the silicon instead of the standardized shapes you find now. They’ve uploaded a full image of the chip.

For an introduction to silicon hacking, we reccomend [bunnie]’s talk from Toorcon and [Karsten]’s talk from 24C3. You can find many more posts on the topic in our silicon tag.

15 thoughts on “Intel 4004 Internals

  1. @Vegas:

    As someone who designs modern chips, the answer is an emphatic NO! This chip ran around ~700 Khz. Modern chips run at 1+ Ghz. This chip also had 4000 transistors, vs. 2 billion (2,000,000,000!) for some of Intel’s chips. We still do a fair amount of “by-hand” optimization for really timing-critical paths, but for the most part you have to rely on synthesis tools to turn your design into actual gates. Laying out 2 billion transistors by hand is an impossible task, and the machines that actually make the chips are not even capable of doing arbitrary shapes/orientations.

    On the bright side, you could probably make a 128,000 core chip using 4004’s nowadays =)

  2. @ C

    Wow, I just got the strangest sense that Isaac Asimov predicted all of this in his early works, computer brains designing more intricate computer brains.

    How long until a giant shiny globe is ruling the world? (I bet never, but that was some good sci-fi (: )

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