Chip Hall of Fame: IBM Deep Blue 2 Chess Chip

Deep Blue’s logic chip powered the first major victory of an AI over a human

1 min read
IBM Deep Blue 2 Chess Chip
Image: Feng-Hsiung Hsu

chipImage: Feng-hsiung Hsu

Deep Blue 2 Chess Chip

Manufacturer: IBM

Category: Logic

Year: 1997

On one side of the board, 1.5 kilograms of gray matter. On the other side, 480 chess chips. Humans finally fell to computers in 1997, when IBM’s chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, beat the reigning world champion, Garry Kasparov. Each of Deep Blue’s chips consisted of 1.5 million transistors arranged into specialized blocks—such as a move-generator logic array—as well as some RAM and ROM. Together, the chips could churn through 200 million chess positions per second. That brute-force power, combined with clever game-evaluation functions, gave Deep Blue decisive moves that Kasparov called “uncomputerlike.” These moves “exerted great psychological pressures,” recalls Deep Blue’s mastermind, Feng-hsiung Hsu, now at Microsoft.

Since Deep Blue’s victory, more and more games in which human intelligence seemed to have the upper hand have fallen to the machines: in 2016, Google’s AlphaGo beat the world’s best Go player, Lee Sedol.

Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Kasporov opens a game against Deep Blue 2 in May 1997 by moving his knight. Opposite him is Feng-hsiung Hsu, moving on behalf of IBM because the company was clearly too cheap to build a cool/scary robot with an arm.

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How Ted Hoff Invented the First Microprocessor

Hoff thought designing 12 custom chips for a calculator was crazy, so he created the Intel 4004

14 min read
How Ted Hoff Invented the First Microprocessor

The rays of the rising sun have barely reached the foothills of Silicon Valley, but Marcian E. (Ted) Hoff Jr. is already up to his elbows in electronic parts, digging through stacks of dusty circuit boards. This is the monthly flea market at Foothill College, and he rarely misses it.

Ted Hoff is part of electronics industry legend. While a research manager at Intel Corp., then based in Mountain View, he realized that silicon technology had advanced to the point that, with careful engineering, a complete central processor could fit on a chip. Teaming up with Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin, he created the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004.

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