IBM Develops Even Smaller Microprocessors Using Carbon Nanotubes


Mon, Oct 29th, 2012 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Moore's Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore who predicted that the industry would double the number of transistors it could build on a single chip at routine intervals of 12 to 18 months, seemed to had hit a halt when "the chip making industry has not yet found a way forward beyond the next two or three generations of silicon."

That's all about to change now that IBM scientists have figured out how to make transistors even smaller after being able to "pattern an array of carbon nanotubes on the surface of a silicon wafer and use them to build chips that are hybrids of silicon and carbon nanotubes with more than 10,000 working transistors."

The I.B.M. advance is significant, scientists said, because the chip making industry has not yet found a way forward beyond the next two or three generations of silicon.

"This is terrific. I'm really excited about this," said Subhasish Mitra, a Stanford University electrical engineering professor who specializes in carbon nanotube materials. The promise of the new material, he said is that not only will carbon nanotubes allow chip makers to build smaller transistors, but it is likely they will turn off and on more quickly as well.

In recent years, while chip makers have continued to double the number of transistors on microprocessors and memory chips, their performance, measured as "clock speed," has largely stalled. This has forced the computer industry to change its design and begin building more parallel computers. Today, even smartphone microprocessors come with as many as four processors, or "cores," which are used to break up tasks so they can be processed simultaneously.

I.B.M. scientists said they believed that once they have perfected the use of carbon nanotubes sometime after the end of this decade, it will be possible to dramatically raise the speed of future chips as well as dramatically increase the number of transistors.



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