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February 12, 2009 / gus3

How Small Is Small?

Intel is now producing chips using a “32-nanometer process.” So how small is 32nm?

The radius of a silicon atom is 111 to 210 picometers, depending on the measurement context. 32nm is somewhere between 76 and 144 silicon atoms across.

By contrast, a human red blood cell is 6-8 micrometers in diameter, about 220 times wider than a 32nm strip of silicon.

I guess the “Atom” brand for Intel’s newest processors is appropriate.


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