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3.1.4 Third Generation (1963--1972)

The third generation brought huge gains in computational power. Innovations in this era include the use of integrated circuits, or ICs (semiconductor devices with several transistors built into one physical component), semiconductor memories starting to be used instead of magnetic cores, microprogramming as a technique for efficiently designing complex processors, the coming of age of pipelining and other forms of parallel processing (described in detail in Chapter CA), and the introduction of operating systems and time-sharing.

The first ICs were based on small-scale integration (SSI) circuits, which had around 10 devices per circuit (or ``chip''), and evolved to the use of medium-scale integrated (MSI) circuits, which had up to 100 devices per chip. Multilayered printed circuits were developed and core memory was replaced by faster, solid state memories. Computer designers began to take advantage of parallelism by using multiple functional units, overlapping CPU and I/O operations, and pipelining (internal parallelism) in both the instruction stream and the data stream. In 1964, Seymour Cray developed the CDC 6600, which was the first architecture to use functional parallelism. By using 10 separate functional units that could operate simultaneously and 32 independent memory banks, the CDC 6600 was able to attain a computation rate of 1 million floating point operations per second (1 Mflops).