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The choice of the microprocessor is very important in selecting any microcomputer system because of the related compatibility and performance issues Microprocessors for personal computer systems are manufactured by only a few companies It best known is Intel whose newest line of processors are called Pentium II The fastest among these Pentium II chips are the 400MHz Xeon processors Other companies produce clone microprocessors which uses the same Intel CICS instruction set and therefore can run the same software Less expensive computers also use these chips which are quite reliable and perform well in comparison to those produced by Intel There are two major chip makers producing Intel-style clone microprocessors Cyrix a wholly owned subsidiary of National Semiconductor and Advanced Micro Devices Inc AMD Another well-known chip manufacturer is Motorola which made the original family of M68000 microprocessors for Apple Macintosh computer A third very important microprocessor maker is IBM IBM and Motorola have cooperated in producing a very advanced microprocessor called the PowerPC The PowerPC is based upon RISC architecture and used in the newest Apple Macintosh computers The PowerPC chip is also used in mid-range computing systems such as IBMs AS400 line of computers which are extensively used in businesses today In 1998 IBM announced a major breakthrough in processor manufacturing that permits the use of copper wires rather than the traditional aluminum interconnection to link transistors in chips Copper has less electrical resistance than aluminum and transmits electrical signals faster less resistance also permits cooler running temperatures IBM is able to produce extremely intricate circuit designs with copper at widths of 020 microns which is about 20 smaller than current technology A micron is 1 millionth of a meter one-fourth of a micron is hundreds of times thinner than a human hair The end result will be smaller and much faster microprocessor chips The first microprocessors that are commercially available which use this technology will be in the PowerPC line
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