My first personal computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000. This computer featured a Zilog Z-80A microprocessor running at 3.25 MHz with 2 kilobytes of RAM. The Zilog Z-80 chip contained roughly 6,000 transistors.
I am looking at replacing the graphics card on one of my Wintel boxes. The Nvidia GeForce 6800GT looks like a strong candidate. The chip on this graphics card has a 1 GHz memory clock, 256 megabytes of RAM with roughly 220 million transistors. You can see a picture of the BFG graphics card at the bottom of this post.
1 GHz memory clock. 220 million transistors. On a graphics chip. To play games.
One of the earliest supercomputers was the Cray-1. This computer ran at 80 MHz with a maximum of 8 megabytes of RAM. The processor offered about 800,000 transistors. Obviously today’s graphic cards easily outperform the first generation supercomputers.
The first Cray-1 was purchased by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 1975. The computer cost roughly 8 million dollars. And it weighed about 6 tons including the freon refrigeration unit.