What does NM mean for CPUs? Why is lower better? How does it make a difference?

Have you ever wondered what the term nanometer in short nm means when it comes to CPU?

You might have come across this abbreviation nm (like 14nm, 10nm, 7nm, 6nm, 5nm, 3nm, or almost the difficult ones to make like 2nm and 1nm) while searching for the latest computer technology and wondered what significance it holds in the computing industry.


Well, worry no more! In this article, we will explore what a nanometer means for CPUs and how it can make a significant difference in their performance.

Let’s understand nanometers and their significance in the CPU industry.

What is nm?

The term “nm”, in the context of CPUs, stands for nanometer. A nanometer is a unit of length equal to one billionth of a meter. It is used to measure the size of transistors and other components present on a computer chip. So when we refer to CPUs as being fabricated using a particular nm process, we are essentially talking about the size of the transistors used in its construction.

Why is lower better? How does it make a difference?

The size of transistors plays a crucial role in determining the performance and power efficiency of a CPU. As technology advances and manufacturing processes become more refined, transistors can be made smaller, resulting in several benefits such as:

Performance increases.

Smaller transistors allow more of them to be packed onto a single chip, leading to an increase in the number of transistors available for processing instructions.

This, in turn, enhances the overall performance of the CPU.

Power efficiency improves.

Smaller transistors require less power to operate, resulting in improved power efficiency.

This means that CPUs fabricated using smaller nm processes consume less energy and generate less heat, making them ideal for devices with limited power capabilities, such as laptops and mobile phones.

Reduction in heat output.

As transistors shrink in size, the amount of heat generated by the CPU decreases. This is because smaller transistors have shorter paths for electrical currents to travel, resulting in reduced resistance and heat production. This allows for better thermal management and helps prevent overheating issues so it allows manufacturers to make smaller devices with little or almost no cooling mechanism.

Increased transistor density.

With smaller transistors, more of them can be packed onto a single chip, leading to increased transistor density. This translates into more processing power and the ability to perform complex tasks more efficiently, such as running resource-intensive software or handling multiple tasks simultaneously.


The ongoing trend of shrinking transistors is driven by Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles approximately every two years.

By embracing smaller nm processes, CPU manufacturers ensure that their products remain competitive and future-proof, meeting the demands of evolving technologies and applications.


In conclusion, the term “nm” in CPU specifications refers to the size of the transistors used in their fabrication, measured in nanometers.

By embracing smaller nm processes, CPUs can deliver improved performance, power efficiency, reduced heat output, increased transistor density, and future-proofing capabilities.

Next time you come across the mention of nm in CPU discussions, you’ll understand the significance it holds and how it can make a difference in the world of computing.

So, embrace the power of smaller transistors for a faster and more efficient computing experience!

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