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A CDE Definition

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active area

The physical part of a chip that contains the transistors, resistors and capacitors, which perform the actual computing and storage operations-- the "action area." Only a few micrometers thick, which is much thinner than a postage stamp, the active area is the top part of the chip. The bottom part is the base layer, which is about a 30th of an inch thick. The chip is bonded to a housing by wires, and the housing is soldered onto the printed circuit board. See chip.

Entirely Magical
No man-made object is more incredible than the chip. Using an Intel i7 CPU as an example, many of its 731 million transistors are switching their state from on to off or off to on every second. In fact, so many transistors are changing that, in total, there are over 200 quadrillion transistor state changes per second. Imagine! More than 200 quadrillion changes per second, second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour, in perfect precision. See transistor.

A Digital Miracle
When people look at a CPU chip, they see an object the size of a small cracker, but its active area is thinner than a postage stamp. CPU chips can be as large as this and as small as the head of a pencil. See microcontroller.

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