Last week Intel made news for its latest shot at building a better, more desirable chip – the Ivy Bridge. In geekly circles this is exciting news because it will shake things up in the computing world. With the Ivy Bridge, it is thought that Intel will finally break into smart phones, though not in a jail breaking sort of way. While Intel chips are in about 80 percent of the world’s PCs, they are not in smart phones, e-readers and other popular devices. The chips in those devices usually come from ARM, a European company whose chips are smaller and use less power. In this case, small size matters. Intel’s Ivy Bridge chip might change the computing world order because of new chip architecture that will allow it to perform better, switch between on and off more efficiently, and use less power.
In case you really care, a silicon chip begins as a crystal grown from molten silicon. Then it is cut into wafers which are heated and etched with chemicals to form tracks and transistors. These transistors switch on and off while processing information. The chip is really, really small, the transistor is practically invisible to the naked eye, and the processing goes really, really fast. The key to a better chip is to pack more and more capacity and ability into less and less space, among other things. That’s the pre-school version. Meanwhile, even as Intel gets it’s Ivy bridge groove on, there are rumors. The ARM people claim to have advance “intel” on Intel’s new chip and are adjusting their strategy accordingly. Whether or not you care about chips, they’re in everything from cars to medical devices. And perhaps they keep your refrigerator running – that is if your refrigerator is running.
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