Intel today celebrated the 25th anniversary of the microprocessor with press and key figures from Intel's history. Ted Hoff, the man behind Intel's 4004 chip, spoke at a conference in Westminster, London, along with Intel fellow John Crawford and Keith Chapple, managing director of Intel UK.
Hoff recalled key industry players' reactions to the chip in the early days, including Digital's founder Kenneth Olsen, who said in 1977: "There is no reason anyone would want to have a computer in their home."
Crawford reviewed the progress of the microprocessor, from the early 4004, 8008 and 8080, to the 386 and 486, and Pentium and Pentium Pro chips. "In 1995, the Pentium Pro had 5.5 million transistors. That's about 200 times the 8086," said Crawford. He added that Intel will improve existing chips further by making line-width smaller, using more metal layers, lowering the voltage below 3.3-volt and enhancing present parallel processing technology.
Crawford also said the two "Moore's laws" of Intel co-founder Gorden Moore have held true, namely that "the number of transistors per chip will double every 24 months", and "as the sophistication of chips goes up, the cost of [fabrication plants] goes up exponentially". In 1995, Intel spent around £2.2 billion on wafer fabrication plants compared with around £10 million in 1966," said Crawford.
Chapple looked to the near-future where Intel's MMX multimedia-enhanced technology will put 57 additional instructions on each chip. "By the end of 1997 our whole microprocessor range will include this technology," Chapple said.