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Microprocessor-Based Computers
October 1996 (vol. 29 no. 10)
pp. 27-37

When Univac delivered its first commercial computer in 1951, it set off a chain of events that continue to unfold. The development of the computer and the evolution of the integrated circuit have been intertwined since the first commercial integrated circuit appeared in 1961. The value of microprocessor-based computers derives from their semiconductors. Value-oriented system design leads to volume. In semiconductor-related industries, higher volume leads to lower cost and to higher performance. Value-oriented systems, therefore, eventually improve to encroach on the performance-oriented market. But performance-oriented systems cannot encroach on the value-oriented market, because they are unable to achieve the volumes necessary to make them cost-competitive. It is a no-win situation for performance-oriented systems, and a repeated lesson for the semiconductor-based businesses: Volume drives the industry. Application accelerators, packaging, and exotic components will help carry PC performance forward. The PC will continue to improve, but the point of leverage for performance improvement will move away from the CPU. Microprocessors will continue to improve, but the pace will slow as margins in the microprocessor business decline.

Citation:
Nick Tredennick, "Microprocessor-Based Computers," Computer, vol. 29, no. 10, pp. 27-37, Oct. 1996, doi:10.1109/2.539718
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