The materials used in making semiconductor are cheap and readily available then does the cost of processors so high can't we use metals like copper and iron which very good conductor for manufacturing these processors.

  • $\begingroup$ 1) Because of the behavior of the materials, 2) the costs of processing said materials. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ By "processors" I assume you mean integrated circuit chips. If so, you appear to have a misunderstanding of why they need to be made from semiconducting materials & not conducting materials. Look at the origins of the transistor & then look at how integrated circuit chip are manufactured & why the process is complex - which adds to the cost. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ How do you propose to switch a piece of copper or iron off and on? $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ I used to work with pre-silicon computers. The adder drawer weighed 125 pounds and the rack system came with its own generator $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ I also worked on an old lasagna-making machine controlled by relay logic. The control panel was 48 feet long and had 8000 relays - most of them custom jobs. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


The raw material for a semiconductor may only be sand. But sand is an insulator. It has to be processed into ultra-pure silicon. The sizes of features in a modern semiconductor are measured in nanometres. So even one speck of dust getting into that silicon can ruin one microchip. So everything has to be done in an ultra-clean environment. Which means expensive machines.

Ordinary conductors aren't much use. The clever bit about semiconductors is that they can be switched on and off by applying small voltages or currents to their inputs. A conductor is always on.


To produce every new successive generation of nodes and transistors, the machinery must be constantly upgraded to accommodate it. Moores LAW. Which states the amount of transistors on a microchip Double every generation (18-24 months) enter image description here The manufacturing process for each successive chip becomes more quality control difficulty and energy intensive. But per capita, is actually cheaper.

The 1st Microprocessor to commercially go on sale was Intel 4004. It had 2,300 transistors and cost 60 dollars in 1971. (450 dollars USD today 2023 money)enter image description here

Apple' M3 chip has 37 BILLION transistors. enter image description here THou not sold individually, is probably in 400-600 dollar range but is 16 million times more transistorsenter image description here


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