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SPECIAL FEATURE: The Impact of Semiconductor Technology on Computer Systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131449D
Original Publication Date: 1979-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-11
Document File: 11 page(s) / 44K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Dileep P. Bhandarkar: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

[Figure containing following caption omitted: Semiconductor logic and solid-state memory -- the same basic technologies that gave us the calculator revolution -- promise to provide the tools for automation in the factory and office.] Semiconductor technology has undergone tremendous improvements and changes over the past decade. Chip complexity has increased by almost four orders of magnitude, while cost per gate has declined correspondingly. Paced by these advances in technology, the cost per computation has declined dramatically. The future trends in semiconductor technology will have a direct impact on processors, mass storage, terminals and peripherals, and system architectures.

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SPECIAL FEATURE: The Impact of Semiconductor Technology on Computer Systems

Dileep P. Bhandarkar

Digital Equipment Corporation

  (Image Omitted: Semiconductor logic and solid-state memory -- the same basic technologies that gave us the calculator revolution -- promise to provide the tools for automation in the factory and office.)

Semiconductor technology has undergone tremendous improvements and changes over the past decade. Chip complexity has increased by almost four orders of magnitude, while cost per gate has declined correspondingly. Paced by these advances in technology, the cost per computation has declined dramatically. The future trends in semiconductor technology will have a direct impact on processors, mass storage, terminals and peripherals, and system architectures.

The impact of semiconductor technology on computer systems has been felt mainly due to two elements -- memory and microprocessors. The most widespread influence has been exerted by semiconductor random access memory, which has already displaced magnetic core as the dominant main memory technology. Future trends in memory technology will affect computer system organizations. Emerging charge-coupled device and magnetic bubble memory technologies will shape the structure of the memory hierarchy in mass storage systems.

Microcomputers will dominate the low end of the minicomputer market in the 1980s. Semiconductor technology can also result in lower peripheral interfacing costs. It has been responsible for the migration of increasing functionality into terminals, transforming them into full- fledged packaged computer systems.

Low-cost hardware should also encourage greater usage of high-level languages, resulting in lower software costs. The emphasis of computer designers should shift from hardware parts cost minimization to the reduction of the total life-cycle costs, with heavy emphasis on factors such as reliability, availability, maintainability, and ease of programming.

Semiconductor technology trends

Semiconductor chip complexity can be expressed in terms of the number of components (transistors). Levels of integration that started with small-scale integrated circuits with up to 100 components have evolved through medium-scale integration (100-1000 components) and large- scale integration (100010,000 components) to VLSI or very large-scale integration devices with over 10,000 components. Figure 1 shows the progress in logic and memory technology.20 The 64K RAM and the 16-bit microprocessor are state-of-the-art devices today. The next ge...