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What NM stands for in a processor? And why it is important?

What NM stands for in a processor? And why it is important?

If you had bought a phone or laptop from the market, the seller would tell you the phone’s features, and you might have heard of 10nm, 5nm, 7nm, etc. These are great processors. They don’t use much power, have excellent battery life, and are incredibly fast. However, the question that will be at the back of your mind is, “what is NM?”. If you want to know what NM in a processor means, this article will help you better understand it.

What NM stands for in a processor?

Nm is an acronym for Nanometer. It is used to measure the length in a metric system like centimeters, meters, etc. A nanometer is also used to reveal dimensions on the atomic scale. It is often referred to as a technology node or process node in technology. 

One nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter. So you can’t use nanometers to measure extended distances. Instead, they are used to measure microscopic objects or devices like transistors found in CPUs or atomic structures. 

Companies use nanometer technology to measure the distance between adjoining transistors in processors or sizes of transistors used in tablets, laptops, phones, etc. Nanometers are also great for measuring the dimensions of integrated circuits like computer processors since they consist of tiny components. 

Various types of processors are measured using nanometers. Manufacturers use different numbers to indicate the distance between the transistors and other parts in the CPU. 

Manufacturers like Intel, TSMC, and Samsung use nanometers in manufacturing procedures because that’s how you will know how transistors are placed in the processor. If the number is small like 4nm, 5nm, 7nm, 10nm, etc., it means more transistors are placed in the same areas. This allows for more efficient and faster processors.

It is also essential to note that numerous chipset manufacturers use nanometers differently. For example, the 10nm node can compete with TMSC’s 7nm node in terms of efficiency despite the different numbers. 

The performance of transistors is not directly proportional to their sizes, and that is because manufacturers measure them differently. Therefore, it is better to use these numbers as a marketing strategy to segment transistors rather than their power or accurate sizes. 

Why are Small NM Processors Preferred More?

CPUs are made of millions of transistors in a semiconductor chip. The distance between them, in nanometers, will determine how many transistors will be packed in the semiconductor chip. 

A smaller distance will significantly reduce the distance traveled by electrons and their overall performance. The outcomes of a small Nm in a processor are less energy consumption, faster computing power, smaller die size, less heat dissipation, and less thermal output around the board. 

All these advantages will significantly increase transistor density which results in more core in every chip and considerably reduce costs. Currently, the processor lithography of TSMC is 7nm, while Intel’s own is 10nm.

When you compare TSMC’s 7nm processor to their 14nm processor, the 7nm processor has more transistors in a given space. This means the 7nm processor consumes less power, dissipates less energy, and has faster computing power than the 14nm processor. You can use this to determine how good your gadget is. 

Still, it would be best not to forget only to compare the nm processors of the same manufacturers since every manufacturer has its way of measuring nm in the processor.

There are numerous benefits of having a small nm processor in your gadgets, and some of them include:

  • Higher Transistor Density: The smaller the sizes of transistors and the distance between them, the more transistors you can pack in the given area. If you take two processors with the same die side and one uses a smaller value during the manufacturing process, the one with a smaller value will have more transistors packed in it.
  • Lower Power Transistors: Transistors can conveniently control the on/off switch with less power in lower nm CPUs. Also, the smaller nm process will be electrically efficient.
  • Faster Transistor: Electrons will travel less to work optimally and efficiently if the distance between the source and transistor is small. And this can only be achieved with a small nm processor. So the distance between the transistors will also be significantly reduced, which will make the transistor work faster.
  • Less Heat Dissipation: Because the electrons do not have to travel much before working efficiently and the transistors are close to each other, less heat is dissipated.

Final Thoughts

Smaller nm processors are the future. They are faster, more powerful, efficient, etc. Manufacturers are working on how they can even make nm nodes smaller for better efficiency and overall performance.

The nm process widely accepted uses electrons through the silicon tracks in the transistor for moving details. If nm nodes cannot be made any smaller, photonics can be the next breakthrough in technology. Photonics is the transmission of photons or the physical science of light waves. It will travel faster with less power consumption when compared to smaller nm nodes.

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