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How exactly do nm's work in a cpu?

post #1 of 20
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I've been reading about this and they say the smaller the process like 32nm or 22nm the less heat and power and more performance is on the chip? Why is this so? They also said more transistors in the same space, but if the nm is smaller how does it have enough space for the same amount of transistors? I guess it would help to know how transistors work as well.
post #2 of 20
It's a thinner "slice". smile.gif

So, the giant "wafer" that has all of the CPUs is thinner.
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post #3 of 20
a nanometer(nm) is .000000001 meters. The "wiring" has a certain amount of resistance, therefore produces a certain amount of heat. The smaller something can be made, the less heat it will produce. Because it produces less heat, the clock speed can be increased, which will increase performance.
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post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by venomblade;14384487 
I've been reading about this and they say the smaller the process like 32nm or 22nm the less heat and power and more performance is on the chip? Why is this so? They also said more transistors in the same space, but if the nm is smaller how does it have enough space for the same amount of transistors? I guess it would help to know how transistors work as well.

Having a smaller transistor allows less voltage to control it. Less voltage generates less heat and usually also allows a higher frequency. There are several types of transistors, but MOSFETS (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors) are the most commonly used. You basically can create an Open or a Closed circuit which allows you to use them as in Boolean Logic (0 or 1). They call them semiconductor because you can make it an insulator or a conductor by changing the voltage across it.
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post #5 of 20
nm Stands for nanometres which is a measurement of size, So the lower the nm the more densly packed the transistors can be. and because of the smaller size it requires less voltage and less voltage means less energy which in turn means less heat output.
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post #6 of 20
32nm basically means the average width of a component (such as a transistor) in the CPU is only 32 nanometers. When they have a process shrink, for example 32 -> 22 nm, since the components are smaller you can fit more of them into the same space.

Smaller processes have more performance because you can fit more cores and more cache on the chip without making it too large physically. They use less power because the components are closer together and have less resistance, so less voltage is needed to drive a current between parts of the CPU.

That's greatly simplified but I hope it makes sense.
post #7 of 20
nm = nanometers.
It means how thin the CPU is engraved.
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post #8 of 20
I've always thought of it (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, those who understand it better) that the nm specification was more of a 'grid' on which the parts can be made. The smaller the grid (less nm), the more parts, circuits, etc. you can fit in the same amount of space. The parts are all made to take X grid units so the smaller the grid, the smaller the parts. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to smaller parts so that must be taken into account.
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post #9 of 20
The smaller nm refers to the smaller transistor size which makes up a chip, not the total square area of the die. Smaller transistors means you can fit more of them into the same space. For example, you have a 100' x 100' room. Which would you be able to fit more of in that space, 2' x 2' rugs or 4' x 4' rugs? It's the same idea. With more transistors, you can pack a bigger chip into the same space, allowing more complex designs, more cache, etc., etc.

Edit: Oh my goodness, ninja'd like five times in one minute. As others said though, it also could mean less voltage and/or less heat (all else being equal).
Edited by Princess Garnet - 7/28/11 at 4:18pm
post #10 of 20
lower number in nm = improved architecture
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