Allow me to Geek out for a brief moment…
So what is this? Landscape photgraphy? Some lego? No, silly, it’s a microchip die (the wafer of silicon before packinging into a chip). Yes, I know you already knew that, it’s bleeding obvious, innit?
This particular one is the Intel Penryn, a quad-core chip found in the latest Apple Pro. As the Apple has two of these things, that makes it an octo-core computer – great crikes!
The transistors in this thing are 45 nanometres across, which is quite small considering there are a billion nanometres in a metre. Not to mention the fact that a typical bacterium is 2000nm across and the usual benchmark, the human hair is 90,000nm. These transistors are 45nm.
And can switch on and off 300 billion times a second. (These stats from Intel)
Quite apart from the staggering feat of engineering they represent they look good too. I often find that suitably purposeful pieces of industrial design have a fascinating aesthetic quality to them. Anything from Watt’s steam engines to Babbage’s Difference Engine, and from Ive’s sublime designs for iPods to this exquisite example of Communist Architecture: