Today's CPU research is mind blowing! We are creating processors at a size much smaller than ever anticipated, and breaking the "rules" each time we do it.
Intel today released news on the 14nm process they have developed. This means the gate distance between each transistor on the CPU is much smaller than say, the Ebola virus.
How big (or should I say how small) is 14nm?
It really helps to put this into laymen perspective. For example a hair on your end is around 75,000nm (nanometers) in diameter. A human's red blood cell is between 6,000-8,000nm across, and the Ebola virus is about 1,500nm long and 50nm wide.
Why does this matter?
The smaller we (and by "we" I mean Intel, because nobody else is even close to their fab processes at this time) can build CPUs, the cooler they run, the less energy they require, and that translates into faster speed, less heat, and better battery life for our devices.
Will it ever stop, or slow down?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: "Moore's Law" coined at Intel in 1965 that states a CPU processing speed will double approx every two years, has held true for almost 50 years. A few years ago Intel had reached the theoretical limitation for CPU speeds at the current technology, so instead of quitting they just invented a brand new way to build CPUs... "tri-gate technology" Tri-gate or 3D CPUs eliminate the previous issues with CPU scaling, and, for the current time, allow Moore's law to continue unscathed. Eventually though we will reach a point where processing power, and processors are so ubiquitous, so intrusive into every aspect of every device, everywhere, that this law will be broken, or deemed unnecessary.
And just how MANY transistors are there in today's current CPUs? Well that will blow your mind a little too. The current gen Intel Xeon Ivybridge tops the scales at over 4.3 BILLION of them!
With all those transistors working for you, think of all the cat videos you could load up on Facebook at once!!
Thanks for reading!!