Content for 74181


The 74181 is a 4-bit slice arithmetic logic unit (ALU), implemented as a 7400 series TTL integrated circuit. The first complete ALU on a single chip, it was used as the arithmetic/logic core in the CPUs of many historically significant minicomputers and other devices. The 74181 represents an evolutionary step between the CPUs of the 1960s, which were constructed using discrete logic gates, and today's single-chip CPUs or microprocessors. Although no longer used in commercial products, the 74181 is still referenced in computer organization textbooks and technical papers. It is also sometimes used in 'hands-on' college courses, to train future computer architects.

Inside the vintage 74181 ALU chip: how it works and why it’s so strange

“The 74181 ALU (arithmetic/logic unit) chip powered many of the minicomputers of the 1970s: it provided fast 4-bit arithmetic and logic functions, and could be combined to handle larger words, making it a key part of many CPUs. But …

Inside the 74181 ALU chip: die photos and reverse engineering

“What’s inside a TTL chip? To find out, I opened up a 74181 ALU chip, took high-resolution die photos, and reverse-engineered the chip.1 Inside I found several types of gates, implemented with interesting circuitry and unusual transistors. The …