8.16.2005

 

The next generation of transistors

Many people wonder what the "next step" will be beyond silicon once we start running into the physical limitations of heat production, feature size on the chip and clock rates. Here is one of the possible answers:

Y-shaped nanotubes are ready-made transistors: "Tiny tubes of carbon, crafted into the shape of a Y, could revolutionise the computer industry, suggests new research.

The work has shown that Y-shaped carbon nanotubes are easily made and act as remarkably efficient electronic transistors - the toggles used to control the flow of electrons through computer circuits.

But the nanotransistors are just a few hundred millionths of a metre in size -roughly 100 times smaller than the components used in today's microprocessors. They could, therefore, be used to create microchips several orders of magnitude more powerful than the ones used in computers today, with no increase in chip size."

And this article points out that there is a good bit of steam left in conventional silicon architectures as Intel moves from a 90-nanometer to a 65-nanometer architecture for its newest chip design:

A new flagship for Intel: "The chip will have more than one core, or processor. It could exploit Intel's newest manufacturing technology, which makes chips with circuit widths 65 nanometers in length, compared with the 90-nanometer chips in production today. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter." This chip will be announced on August 24.

A key feature of Moore's law is that innovation can work on many different fronts to keep the improvments coming. See Robotic Nation for details.

Comments:
That's the type of breakthrough that will lead to higher density storage too.
 
I wonder how long it will be until useful quantum computing becomes available (quantum computers do already exist but are nowhere near as powerful as standard, silicon computers).
 
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The Future Of Computers

I'd have to agree that nanotubes will be the next paradigm of computing. Nanotech is taking over from silicon. In the end, CPU's will be all nano-nano-nano: easy to cool, low-powered, and lightning fast!
 
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