Could we build a Computer Processor from Mechanical Parts?

Let's assume for a moment that the transistor had never been invented and humankind were still using electromechanical relays, like in the early 1900's. We can still apply boolean logic to them, just as we can apply it to transistors, but what about the engineering side of things? Let's take a look: Mechanical parts are larger, consume more electricity and wear more quickly than semiconductors. Modern processors consist of billions of transistors. Let’s assume we had a 1 billion transistor chip and we wanted to build it with relays. If each transistor were to be replaced with one relay, then we would require 1 billion relays. Let’s further assume that 1 relay would require 1cm^3 (the size of

Tutorial 11: The Role of Timing

Timing plays an important role in the proper function of a computer’s internal and external communication. When we press the Enter button on the Program Counter (which triggers a clock signal), a sequence of events takes place that we have documented in the following little video. This, and more, happens a billion times in our computers and smartphones every single second. So let's see what is going on inside the machine when we compute 5+4-2.

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