Microprocessor or Processor is the brain of every computer. It is responsible for crunching the numbers and assigning the task. Microprocessor is not only used in computers, but even in modern household devices such as smartphones, washing machines, air conditioners etc. Some of the luxury brand cars use it for control and smooth functioning. The list is endless as more and more devices are now equipped with controllers which are controlled by a microprocessor. Microprocessor played an important role in the evolution of PC’s, right from the time a computer occupied an entire room to the time now when it can be carried in your palm. The size of the microprocessor and the speed with which it carried on its operation are two major factors which determine the future of computers. The size of microprocessor determines how big and thick your laptop can be and how fast it can function. In this article we’ll go through details on the future of Microprocessor in the next couple of years.
Microprocessor is a silicon chip on which transistors are incorporated. More the number of transistors incorporated in it, the more it can handle operations. With the advancement in technology, the manufacturers were able to incorporate more transistors by reducing the size. As a result, the gadgets and devices are becoming faster, lighter and more power efficient.
The major players in Microprocessor market are arch rivals Intel and AMD. Both had their ups and downs. Intel being the pioneer was always popular with most of their products, except for a few poorly designed ones. AMD on the other hand, from time to time came up with models that performed excellent for high end operations like gaming and cloaked better results in benchmark tests compared to Intel. AMD is less costly compared to its Intel counterpart, also contributed to its popularity. However there is a major drawback for AMD. AMD processors were notorious for generating enormous heat. So it was never recommended for using in laptops and similar small devices. On a personal note, the biggest regret that I have in my technical life is buying a Compaq laptop with AMD Turion processor. It burned down my motherboard thrice. Luckily, I was protected HP’s live care policy and got free replacement of motherboard every time it burned down. I recommend AMD processor only for desktop PC’s and yes it does a pretty good job in desktop.
Future of Intel Microprocessors
Intel captured most of the microprocessor market by 2011 with its new generation of Microprocessors. Intel operates on what it calls “tick-tock” cycle. On every tick, Intel introduces a new manufacturing process. With every tock, it introduces a new microarchitecture. In 2010, Intel introduced Clarkdale desktop processors with 32nm (nanometers) on Nehalem microarchitecture. This improved performance and save energy. Then came the tock in 2011, where Intel introduced Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. This again improved performance and consumed less power compared to its predecessor. In 2012, the time for next tick Intel introduced 22nm processors on Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. The resulting processor codenamed Ivy Bridge is supposed to deliver even better performance and power saving compared to both of its predecessor.
In 2011, Intel introduced 3D tri-gate transistor technology which enabled new transistors smaller, faster and power efficient. The transition of Intel’s die size from 32nm to 22nm decreased the size of Microprocessor. Smaller the size, lesser the energy drawn by the chip. The technology is introduced in latest Ivy Bridge processors which mean smaller, faster laptops with better battery life and desktops which are faster and easier on the budget. Sandy bridge owners who are worried about changing the motherboard in order to accommodate the new processor, there is good news. Ivy Bridge Extreme Edition will use the LGA 2011 socket used by Sandy Bridge Processors.
Intel Ivy Bridge also include upgraded graphics core inside the processor which will enhance the graphical experience to another level. The integrated graphics will also have Direct X 11.0 support. It also brings native support for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. 2012 will be the year of Ivy Bridge as more desktops, laptops and the much awaited Ultrabooks will be equipped with it.
Future of AMD Microprocessors
AMD processors are well known for its better graphics processing capabilities and budget mindedness. AMD is concentrating on Fusion Accelerated Processing Units which combines the CPU and GPU(Graphics Processing Unit) into a single piece of Silicon. Last year, AMD introduced Bulldozer microarchitecture which was very disappointing. The best chip used by this technology failed to compete with even the mid ranged ones from Intel. AMD is now working on an enhanced variant of Bulldozer microarchitecture, Piledriver. Not much is known about Piledriver, but anyone can assume AMD should be working on strengthening its 32nm architecture by boosting performance per Watt and stronger GPU cores. The fact AMD is still in its 32nm architecture compared to Intel’s 22nm architecture puts it in disadvantage. The latest processor should be released some time by the end of this year.
Microprocessors for Mobile Market
No discussion will be complete without mentioning the mobile market. Today smartphone and tablets are powered by Microprocessors. The presence of processors have enabled making of faster devices without compromising on its size and aesthetic looks. Yesterday, we had processors with two cores making us wonder if we really need so much processing power for a mobile phone. But now, the trend is quad core processor which makes it a beast with almost the same processing power of Desktop PC’s. nVidia and Qualcomm leads the charge in this category.
nVidia’s Tegra 3 is one of the first quad core mobile microprocessors in the market. This is based on nVidia’s system-on-a-chip line. The processor consists of an ARM Cortex A9 CPU with an integrated 12 core GeForce GPU for the graphics. Qualcomm on the other hand will be introducing quad core Snapdragon S4 chips. These are designed for tablets running on Windows 8 OS. Snapdragon S4 is built on 28nm architecture, a sharp improvement from 45nm architecture used by its predecessor S3 chips. The Snapdragon S4 will be released by the end of the year. Like any other improvements both the processors promises improved performance and less power consumption. Find more details on mobile microprocessors.
The future looks bright for Microprocessor with the advancement in technology and it is constantly improving every year. We will soon be able to see more miniature devices that are powerful, energy efficient and surely blow your mind.