Welcome to the Chip Hall of Fame

The stories of the greatest and most influential microchips in history—and the people who built them

1 min read

To most, microchips are mysterious black boxes sprouting tiny metal pins, labeled with seemingly random strings of letters and numbers. But for those in the know, some chips stand out like a celebrity on the red carpet. Many of these integrated circuits found glory by directly powering products that transformed the world, while others cast a long shadow of influence over the computing landscape. And some became cautionary tales in their failed ambitions.

To honor and tell the stories of these renowned blobs of silicon—and their creators and users—IEEE Spectrum has created the Chip Hall of Fame.

Many of the first class of inductees came from our perennially popular article (and the inspiration for the Hall) "25 Microchips That Shook The World," written by Brian Santo with assistance from Erico Guizzo, Sally Adee, and Samuel K. Moore, but each year brings a new class. Our latest inductee is MOS Technology's 6581 SID chip, which was responsible for the groundbreaking sound of the Commodore 64 home computer, and whose musical legacy lives on.

If you think you know of a chip that can stand alongside these titans, tell us about it and we'll consider it for the next class.

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3 Ways 3D Chip Tech Is Upending Computing

AMD, Graphcore, and Intel show why the industry’s leading edge is going vertical

8 min read
Vertical
A stack of 3 images.  One of a chip, another is a group of chips and a single grey chip.
Intel; Graphcore; AMD
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A crop of high-performance processors is showing that the new direction for continuing Moore’s Law is all about up. Each generation of processor needs to perform better than the last, and, at its most basic, that means integrating more logic onto the silicon. But there are two problems: One is that our ability to shrink transistors and the logic and memory blocks they make up is slowing down. The other is that chips have reached their size limits. Photolithography tools can pattern only an area of about 850 square millimeters, which is about the size of a top-of-the-line Nvidia GPU.

For a few years now, developers of systems-on-chips have begun to break up their ever-larger designs into smaller chiplets and link them together inside the same package to effectively increase the silicon area, among other advantages. In CPUs, these links have mostly been so-called 2.5D, where the chiplets are set beside each other and connected using short, dense interconnects. Momentum for this type of integration will likely only grow now that most of the major manufacturers have agreed on a 2.5D chiplet-to-chiplet communications standard.

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