It’s amazing how far we’ve come in the speed of our computing. While the number of instructions a CPU can process in a second isn’t a perfect benchmark, as it doesn’t account for the efficiency of the instructions, it will do for our simple comparison. To put the difference the years have made into perspective: 1 second of processing by Intel’s (2011) i7 3960X would have taken the best 1985 personal computer over 4 hours 29 minutes!

Year Chip Millions of Instructions per Second
1985 Intel 386DX 11 MIPS at 33 MHz
1992 Intel 486DX 54 MIPS at 66 MHz
1996 Intel Pentium Pro 541 MIPS at 200 MHz
1999 Intel Pentium III 2,054 MIPS at 600 MHz
iPhone 4S ~5,000 MIPS
2003 Intel Pentium 4 9,726 MIPS at 3.2 GHz
iPhone 5S ~20,500 MIPS
iPhone 6 ~25,000 MIPS
2006 Intel Core 2 X6800 (2 core) 27,079 MIPS at 2.93 GHz
2006 Intel Core 2 QX6700 (4 core) 49,161 MIPS at 2.66 GHz
2008 Intel Core i7 920 (4 core) 82,300 MIPS at 2.66 GHz
2011 Intel Core i7 3960X (6 core) 177,730 MIPS at 3.33 GHz
2013 Intel Core i7 4770K (4 core) 133,740 MIPS at 3.9 GHz
2014 Intel Core i7 5960X (8 core) 238,310 MIPS at 3.0 GHz
2015 Intel Core i7 6700K (4 core) ~161,173 MIPS at 4.0 GHz

Note: Due to Apple’s obsession with secrecy the iPhone numbers are approximations based on custom utilities and not official. The i7 6700K was just announced last week so benchmarks aren’t available yet, but Intel claims it is 20% faster than the i7 4770K.