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Intel Hardware Hacking Build Hardware

Intel Allows Release of Full 4004 Chip-Set Details 124 124

mcpublic writes "When a small team of reverse engineers receives the blessing of a big corporate legal department, it is cause for celebration. For the 38th anniversary of Intel's groundbreaking 4004 microprocessor, the company is allowing us to release new details of their historic MCS-4 chip family announced on November 15, 1971. For the first time, the complete set of schematics and artwork for the 4001 ROM, 4002 RAM, 4003 I/O Expander, and 4004 Microprocessor is available to teachers, students, historians, and other non-commercial users. To their credit, the Intel Corporate Archives gave us access to the original 4004 schematics, along with the 4002, 4003, and 4004 mask proofs, but the rest of the schematics and the elusive 4001 masks were lost until just weeks ago when Lajos Kintli finished reverse-engineering the 4001 ROM from photomicrographs and improving the circuit-extraction software that helped him draw and verify the missing schematics. His interactive software can simulate an ensemble of 400x chips, and even lets you trace a wire or click on a transistor in the chip artwork window and see exactly where it is on the circuit diagram (and vice-versa)."
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Intel Allows Release of Full 4004 Chip-Set Details

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  • by mako1138 (837520) on Monday November 16, 2009 @05:54PM (#30122302)

    This means that you can cram more transistors in to the same area of silicon, allowing you to complete more operations per clock cycle.

    This is true, but smaller process nodes also produce faster transistors. When you make things on the chip smaller, you have the practical effect of reducing parasitic capacitance in transistors and interconnect. Lower capacitance means a smaller RC time constant (using a first-order model), so logic will work faster. Intel's 45nm process can create an inverter with a delay of less than 5 ps.

    Your statements imply that transistors have a fixed speed, and that the only way to improve performance is parallelism. This is false.

  • Re:So in 2047... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @06:04PM (#30122494)

    Suicide: commit it.

Sometimes, too long is too long. - Joe Crowe

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