Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Computers Are About To Get Faster

Researchers at I.B.M. and the Georgia Institute of Technology are set to announce today that they have broken the speed record for silicon-based chips with a semiconductor that operates 250 times faster than chips commonly used today.

The achievement is a major step in the evolution of computer semiconductor technology that could eventually lead to faster networks and more powerful electronics at lower prices, said Bernard Meyerson, vice president and chief technologist in I.B.M.'s systems and technology group. He said developments like this one typically found their way into commercial products in 12 to 24 months.

The researchers, using a cryogenic test station, achieved the speed milestone by "freezing" the chip to 451 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, using liquid helium. That temperature, normally found only in outer space, is just nine degrees above absolute zero, or the temperature at which all movement is thought to cease.

At 500 gigahertz, the technology is 250 times faster than chips in today's cellphones, which operate at 2 gigahertz. At room temperature, the chips operate at 350 gigahertz, far faster than other chips in commercial use today.

New York Times, June 20, 2006

As the article goes on to mention, this development means that there is still potential left in existing silicon-based chip technology.

There has been talk that the limits if silicon chips had been reached, that the barriers left were not our ability to make the microcircuits, but to cram any more circuits into a given space on a silicon chip.

Looks like the talk was wrong.


At 8:43 AM, Blogger Reach Upward said...

I have seen articles and heard 'experts' proclaim for the last two decades that the physical limitations of silicon chip technology either had been reached or would soon be reached. All of these pessimistic pronouncements have constantly proven to be profoundly false. They fail to take into account the power of human ingenuity and the seemingly inate human desire to push beyond the limits. I think this same principle applies to many of society's seemingly unconquerable problems, including energy, environment, etc.


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