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Graphene Transistors 10x Faster Than Silicon

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the can't-be-too-rich-either dept.

IBM 170

Asadullah Ahmad writes "IBM has created transistors made from carbon atoms, which operate at 100 gigahertz, while using a manufacturing process that is compatible with current semiconductor fabrication. With silicon close to its physical limits, graphene seems like a viable replacement until quantum computing gets to desktop. Quoting: 'Researchers have previously made graphene transistors using laborious mechanical methods, for example by flaking off sheets of graphene from graphite; the fastest transistors made this way have reached speeds of up to 26 gigahertz. Transistors made using similar methods have not equaled these speeds.'" The other day we discussed what sounds like similar research by a group of scientists at Tohoku University; that team did not produce transistors, however.

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Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034718)

The other day we discussed what sounds like similar research [slashdot.org] by a group of scientists at Tohoku University; that team did not produce transistors, however.

Surely that is some sort of joke. From the summary of the Tokyo University article:

A new paper entitled Epitaxial Graphene on Silicon toward Graphene-Silicon Fusion Electronics published by a group of physicists at Tohoku University in Japan has demonstrated that they can grow graphene on a silicon substrate and pair that technique with conventional lithography to create a graphene-on-silicon field effect transistor.

Not to mention that article is a myriad of highly moderated comments admonishing the staleness of graphene on silicon transistors.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31034774)

Sorry Tohoku, not Tokyo. Stupid spell checker and even stupider spell checker user.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034796)

> Surely that is some sort of joke.

Too bad if it is, we have been waiting for this for a while now since silicon based chips kind of reached their frequency limits. Of course, there is quantum computing but it is not coming to your local store soon ;-))

It would be nice to be able to fit a 100 gigahertz chip in current hardware architectures...

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

Bobnova (1435535) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034958)

Silicon has been "about to reach it's limits" since the late 90's.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (4, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034994)

But there is a limit, no mistake about it. Look at modems. They went through this same limit/new limit methodology for years before they were replaced outright. I think this definitely puts silicon in it's death throws, but I expect some last minute breakthroughs that will push it a bit farther than previously though possible. This is a good thing, in that it forces us to optimize current technologies in ways that we didn't previously consider (like compression did for modems) that in turn was applied to all sorts of communication technologies, and arguably to other technologies outside of communications.

I just see this as a necessary step before pushing off into the next big thing.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (2, Interesting)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035266)

Modems are a terrible example. 56k was a ceiling codified in law by the FCC not a limit inherent to the technology. Granted using audio to transmit data would not have gone much farther, and infrastructure changes would have been necessary to make higher speeds possible while mitigating the effects of crosstalk, but the FCC regulation was just a lazy way of brushing that aside. When broadband options overtook dial-up, the issue was moot.

Hard drives would be a more interesting example. There is an industry that keeps changing the maximum, from new perpendicular storage now to using heating lasers to increase data density. Barriers keep getting broken on what is essentially the same old media. However once the slow speeds of holographic storage are solved, there is no doubt that 3D storage will overtake magnetic-based media. These sorts of sea changes are brought about by thresholds. Until these concepts graduate from prototype to production AND cost so ridiculously less per ghz than existing tech, it'll be silicon for the foreseeable future.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (4, Informative)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035506)

I think you're just too young to have seen the whole chain of "limits" on modem speeds. For a long time we were told that 9600 baud was the absolute maximum speed, limited by the fundamental physics of modem technology over phone wire.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modem#Breaking_the_9.6k_barrier [wikipedia.org]

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035726)

That too was not a physical limit, but a limit on the way the data was being handled. Just like LANs over copper. Moving from 10 to 100 to 1000 gb/s is not so much about physical advancements as it is handling the data. This doesn't make things any easier, coming up with algorithms and logic isn't child's play, but it's not like the melting point of a pure element that's just a physical property that can't be changed.

That's the context of the discussion, what are 'the limits' of silicon physically, not what are the design limits of the circuits printed on it.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (4, Insightful)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036076)

Again, that's very easy to say in retrospect. I believe this is an almost identical situation: we have a very complex set of interactions from which we derive one number: "transistor switch speed". We believe we understand those relations well enough that we can derive a fastest speed any possible silicon design can give.

This speed is far more similar to the "maximum" modem speed than it is to the melting point of some substance.

Before Ungerboeck's work, information theory seemed very clear about the fastest possible rate at which data could be reliably sent on the frequencies that would "stay on the wire" without bandwidth bleedover. Ungerboeck just demonstrated that there were artificial assumptions underlying the information coding theory on which that speed was based.

You're looking at documentation after-the-fact on modem speeds, which rightly enough talks about revolutions in theory. From the point of view of people before the revolution in the theory, you talk about physical limits. All limits we calculate are by definition theoretical limits, though.

To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke: When a scientist or engineer states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (5, Informative)

robathome (34756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036164)

I think you're just misunderstanding the problem.

The "baud rate" of telephone lines is pretty slow. Baud rate is the number of symbol transitions per second the media can support. Baud rate and bits/second have not been equivalent since Bell103a/V.21 frequency-shift-keyed modems, where 300 baud meant 300 bps, each state transition being a discrete tone that indicated a "mark" or "space" (0/1). From then on, Bell 212a/V.22 used phase-shift keying to get 1200 bps out of a 600 BAUD symbol rate, encoding two bits of information per symbol.

POTS lines are pretty pokey - the practical maximum BAUD rate is less than 3500 symbols/sec. Where speed advancements were made in later evolutions of POTS modems were in the number of bits that could be encoded per symbol, using QAM and Trellis Modulation. A 33.6 kbps modem is encoding 10 bits per symbol onto a 3429 baud carrier.

So, when you kept hearing "phone lines max out at less than 4800 baud", that was correct. The engineers kept wringing higher bit rates out of narrow-band POTS by putting more information on each of the symbols transmitted.

Then, with V.70 and V.90, the modulation schemes took advantage of certain characteristics of non-muxed POTS lines to use PCM digital encoding instead of an analog audio carrier. Unfortunately, if you were serviced through a SLC-96 ("Slick") muxed subscriber loop, which multiplexed the signal from your subscriber line to the central office, you could only connect with older analog modulation schemes such as v.32/v.32bis/v.34.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036302)

Did you read the link? The 9.6kbaud barrier was fundamentally different than the kind of signal noise, loss introduced issues you're talking about.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035608)

Modems have a fixed limit, because on the ISP side the audio is converted to digital, and goes over a 64Kbps link, of which a part is reserved for signalling, leaving 56K for the user.

It's not a question of being unable to make a better encoder, it's that the line is not able to transmit data any faster.

If you have a line that once a second measures the voltage and outputs a "1" or "0", it doesn't matter what fancy stuff you put on the sending end, the receiver still won't output more than a bit a second.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (2, Interesting)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035902)

I never mentioned the 56k limit. I'm referring to the fact that the same signal is used but tweaked each generation to allow greater speeds in ways that weren't even considered. For instance, from 300 baud modems to 56K modems. Frequency shifts, phase shifting, duplexing, echo cancellation, QAM, etc. All of these pieces allowed more data to be sent over the same old twisted pair in ways they never thought possible.

All of those advances were evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and they benefited all sorts of communication mediums in use today. Had we just stumbled on the next big thing without taking that path, we would have lost the benefits of struggling at the limits of that particular technology.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035124)

> Silicon has been "about to reach it's limits" since the late 90's.

Maybe a little later if we trust this graph, granted it has been forecasted for longer than that although :

http://smoothspan.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/clockspeeds.jpg?w=805 [wordpress.com]

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035570)

Same with data bandwidth over copper wires.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (2, Informative)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034848)

The other day we discussed what sounds like similar research [slashdot.org] by a group of scientists at Tohoku University; that team did not produce transistors, however.

Surely that is some sort of joke. From the summary of the Tokyo University article:

A new paper entitled Epitaxial Graphene on Silicon toward Graphene-Silicon Fusion Electronics published by a group of physicists at Tohoku University in Japan has demonstrated that they can grow graphene on a silicon substrate and pair that technique with conventional lithography to create a graphene-on-silicon field effect transistor.

Not to mention that article is a myriad of highly moderated comments admonishing the staleness of graphene on silicon transistors.

From reading what you quoted, it's not certain that Tohoku produced anything, at least not a graphene transistor. They did however demonstrate that they can grow graphene on a silicon substrate, and that they can pair that technique with conventional lithography to create a graphene-on-silicon field effect transistor. It's just not clear that they did create a graphene transistor, or at least anything comparable to what IBM apparently is producing.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034976)

Note that the Tohoku group grew graphene on silicon while IBM produced graphene transistors on silicon carbide. These are complementary efforts, not competing ones.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (2, Informative)

VitaminB52 (550802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034880)

Maybe you would like to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FET [wikipedia.org]

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035324)

So are we going back to saying 'FET's from almost everything 'MOSFET's? I'm assuming that the 'metal oxide semiconductor' will no longer be applicable when using graphene (at least from that I understand of how the graphene transistors are comprised of). We'll have to replace a bunch of acronyms, like NMOS and PMOS. What'll be the new name? G-MOS?

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035362)

We already have HMOS [wikipedia.org] , so "G-MOS" is a logical way to fill the gap.

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1)

Phics (934282) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034930)

Surely that is some sort of joke. From the summary of the Tokyo University article:

A new paper entitled Epitaxial Graphene on Silicon toward Graphene-Silicon Fusion Electronics published by a group of physicists at Tohoku University in Japan has demonstrated that they can grow graphene on a silicon substrate and pair that technique with conventional lithography to create a graphene-on-silicon field effect transistor.

Did you read this? A paper ... has demonstrated that they can grow graphene... and pair that technique... etc. It's a paper, not a transistor.

Not to mention that article is a myriad of highly moderated comments admonishing the staleness of graphene on silicon transistors.

Advancements in a technology might equate to staleness for some people, but if it's something new happening in the field, some people are going to be interested. How obsolete is your world if technologies not available except in laboratories or in papers are stale?

Re:Didn't Produce Transistors? Oh Come On! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035032)

In the paper they talk about how they cut the substrate, grew the graphene and

For the fabrication of GOS-FET, the ohmic electrodes are defined by the lift-off process with Ti/Au. The device isolation is carried out by oxygen plasma etching to remove the graphene out of the device area. As the gate stack, 200-nm thick SiN is deposited by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). This is followed by the gate metallization with Ti/Au. The probing pads are connected to the ohmic electrodes via holes through the gate stack. The gate length is 10 um and the channel width is 20 um. Standard optical lithography with a mask aligner is used for all process steps.

Yes, they actually did make a FET.

Commercially Viable (5, Insightful)

LikwidCirkel (1542097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034764)

With all the stories of highly-experimental new, novel types of transistors - the majority of which are expensive-research only with no chance of commercialization any time soon, it's refreshing to see something that actually takes production feasibility into account.

Just remember. (4, Informative)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034840)

The first patent for transistors was filed in 1925.
Look where they are now.

Re:Just remember. (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036324)

You are forgetting the exponentinal acceleration of progress.

So the duration between 1925 and when they were first used, is not linearly comparable to the duration between now and when those graphene ones will be first used.

yes, can you make a billion for $10? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035158)

We have dozens of interesting technologies proposed each year. But few pass the commercial test.

My prediction (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034776)

Year 2173:

"Hidrogen-Unobtanium polycomposites seems like a viable replacement until quantum computing gets to desktop."

Re:My prediction (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31034794)

Are you kidding? The world'll end in 2012!

Re:My prediction (3, Funny)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034896)

Year 2173:

"Hidrogen-Unobtanium polycomposites seems like a viable replacement until quantum computing gets to desktop."

I came here from the year 2242 to tell you that you're wrong.

Re:My prediction (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035024)

I came here from the year 4242 to tell you that He's right. dang.

Re:My prediction (2, Funny)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035722)

can you tell me when 6 digit /. UIDs will become popular?

Re:My prediction (1)

IndigoDarkwolf (752210) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036218)

Oh? So what are they using in the year 2242 as a stop-gap measure until quantum computing gets to the desktop?

Re:My prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31034992)

Year 1943:

"Trinitrotoluene semiconductors seem like a viable replacement until transist.... BOOOOOOOM!"

Re:My prediction (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035356)

Germanium forever you punks!

Re:My prediction (2, Funny)

ianare (1132971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035090)

... and all we need to do get some is to get some stupid natives out of their tree house.

Re:My prediction (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035392)

Man, that's speciest.

Re:My prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035654)

Err, the correct form would be...

... and all we need to do is kill the native sentient species that happens to look like a tree.

Re:My prediction (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035612)

Unobtanium will never get to your desktop. It may however hover slightly above it.

Re:My prediction (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036234)

I think you got some Upsidasium in your Unobtanium if it's hovering.

How long until you can buy it? (3, Funny)

Cytotoxic (245301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034808)

IBM research is typically the traditional 10 years away - but not this one... from TFA:

"This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff, this is real," he says. "This development is really going to turn into a communications device not too long from now."

So, I won't be playing Crysis on this transistor next month, but I might be using it to make a phone call "not too long from now".

Re:How long until you can buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31034950)

So, I won't be playing Crysis on this transistor next month, but I might be using it to make a phone call "not too long from now".
I don't understand your logic. If you "use" it to make a call, would be perhaps because at some point in the middle these transistors will be driving optical devices or antennas to transmit at higher frequencies. So it's more likely you'll have it at home first that actually being close to the transistor through a call.

At 100GHz, I don't think that would be very power friendly for your home appliances either.

Re:How long until you can buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31034970)

i think you've misunderstood "communications device". Chances are something of this nature will be aimed as high throughput communications backbone devices. Think firewall/switch/etc with 100's Gbit/sec of throughput.

Re:How long until you can buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035278)

right. Things that carry phone calls these days.

Re:How long until you can buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31034986)

The obiggest issue is cost, the transistors were made on silicon carbide wafers, these are very expensive. Even if you ignore all the costs of the new specialized methods to make them, silicon carbide is much more expensive than silicon wafers so we wont see it in consumer technology soon. And in case anyone thinks they're clever, no the silicon carbide brakes on your car are not single crystal.

Re:How long until you can buy it? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035566)

True, but also look at the scale of the effort. In theory, you'd only need 10% of the number of transistors to achieve the same level of throughput (ignoring interconnects), so the production yields of each wafer could be as high as 10 times that of silicon wafers to produce the same "chip". So if the Si Carbide wafer costs 8 times as much to produce, you have a net reduction in chip cost. Plus, this allows you to scale the chips up in transistor size depending on application need (and hence cost). So a 100ghz network appliance using SiC may cost significantly more than the 5ghz Si counterpart, but also gives you so much higher throughput, that it's worth it in applications that need that much bandwidth. While I do agree that it's not likely to see the next generation mobile processors using the technology in the near future, the applications that can justify the extra cost most definitely do exist...

Re:How long until you can buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035590)

(I'm a student doing research in this area) You forget economies of scale. Right now, SiC wafers are indeed expensive (around ~$1k for a 2" wafer; compare that with about $20 for a Si wafer of the same size), but even in the 3 years I have been in the field, the price has dropped by a factor of 2 or 3, and we're still in the research phase of this material. During this time, the wafer quality has gotten much better also so that there are nearly zero defects in the entire wafer. I expect the price to plummet soon, as there has been explosive growth in researchers switching to graphene on SiC.

Re:How long until you can buy it? (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035022)

Yeah but that's mainly because it's not fast enough to play crisis.

Re:How long until you can buy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035234)

With the way websites are going these days, you're going to need dual 32-core processors running at 100 GHz just be able to handle their useless JavaScript effects and AJAX rubbish.

Even Slashdot has fallen victim to this. Last weekend, for shits and giggles, I installed Linux on the system I used to use back around 2000. Even with Chrome, Slashdot was damn near unusable due to all the JavaScript faggotry it now has going on.

I used to browse Slashdot regularly on that system, and it was fast! What the hell has happened? It's not like anything useful has actually been added to the site since then.

3D chips (4, Interesting)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034844)

To be honest I'm more interested in seeing proper 3D chips become reality. If you find some affordable way to produce chips with, say 10 000 layers, then processing power per volume unit would increase rapidly.

I think the major obstacle is going to be what to do about heat. The center of such a chip-stack would probably get quite hot so you probably want to run some form of liquid cooling through the chip itself. Alternatively materials like silicon carbide or diamond might be able to cope better with the high power density.

Re:3D chips (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035102)

The center of such a chip-stack would probably get quite hot so you probably want to run some form of liquid cooling through the chip itself.

Once you're creating enough layers, there's nothing preventing the designers to create a 3D structure that's similar to that of a heatsink. Basically, it'll be designed with more surface area so that it can be cooled effectively. Probably a batch of fin-like elements that are connected together. And you wouldn't have to run liquid through it -- just fill the spaces between the semiconductor material with a better heat-transferring material (like copper, or eventually artificial diamond), and have that connected to a larger external surface which is cooled like it is today. Of course, this will mean a radical departure from current fabrication designs, but that won't hold the technology for long (it never does).

Re:3D chips (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036014)

You remain limited by heat flow through the boundary of the chip package (which isn't improved by making it a fractal shape). As some point you will need a transport fluid to get heat transfer past the limits of conductive and radiative cooling.

Re:3D chips (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036216)

Yes, but this is like walking before running. Pumping water with miniature compressors within a semiconductor would mean a complex mechanical system which would be difficult to scale (in production, I mean). While the convex hull remains the same, you can still increase the surface area, which will help with heat transport if the material that envelopes it is a better heat conductor than the semiconductor material.

Re:3D chips (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035138)

Quite right. [usatoday.com]

Re:3D chips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035174)

I think the major obstacle is going to be what to do about heat. The center of such a chip-stack would probably get quite hot so you probably want to run some form of liquid cooling through the chip itself. Alternatively materials like silicon carbide or diamond might be able to cope better with the high power density.

Pretty sure you hit the nail on the head with this comment. 3D chips were being studied when I started university 9 years ago, I am sure that most of the problems with them have been worked out in that time, except this one which is the most prevalent problem in chips nowadays. I seem to recall seeing a few graphs of Moore's law behavior over the years, and extrapolating out to 20 years. The interesting one was that the temperature in chips seemed to be heading up so that by 2020 the internal temps would exceed the temperature at the surface of the sun.

Re:3D chips (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035276)

Why would running liquid through the chip not be able to control the temperature? I'm assuming here there is some way to either build voids into your chip or make them out of some material that can be dissolved afterwards without damaging the chip.

Re:3D chips (2, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035242)

3D chip manufacturing would be interesting. As well as having a possible stepping stone towards universal fabrication, you would also have a great increase in the potential number of connections between processing elements. Connectivity is one of the main divides between silicon and neural tissue, so this may have implications for artificial intelligence. Two singularities for the price of one!

Re:3D chips (1)

Evan Meakyl (762695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035320)

I think that a kind of fractal volume for the CPU (which will maximize the surface between the cooling fluid and the heating parts of the CPU) could be pretty cool (no pun intended!), but quite hard to manufacture.

Sounds cheap (3, Funny)

marciot (598356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034916)

It was bad enough when computers were made out of mere sand, now they will be made out of coal?

Can't they make computers out of sapphires or something so I can feel sophisticated when I buy it?

Re:Sounds cheap (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035104)

That's sooooo 2008 [neoseeker.com]

Re:Sounds cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035128)

You know your computer has gold in it, right?

Re:Sounds cheap (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035406)

Diamonds are made from Coal too. Just say it is made from diamonds and you are all set.

Re:Sounds cheap (2, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035442)

Think of it this way: They'll be carbon-based, like us!

Oh noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31036192)

Think of it this way: They'll be carbon-based, like us!

Then they might evolve, stop liking us, build Terminators and take over the world!

Re:Sounds cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035656)

It would certainly raise 'burning up your CPU' to a whole new level.

Bad / Incorrect Article (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31034924)

"The prototype devices, made from atom-thick sheets of carbon, operate at 100 gigahertz"

Define operate? This sounds like the cut-off frequency, which is 100s of GHz for Si CMOS. How is 200GHz 100GHz? And no, this does not mean it can switch this fast. If it can switch this fast, it would likely operate into the THz, and we would be interested in using it for THz applications. Maybe operate is maximum stable oscillation frequency? Ft? Fmax? It's sure as hell not a switching frequency, despite what the article tells us.

"Growing transistors on a wafer not only leads to better performance, it's also more commercially feasible"

Growing transistors on a wafer? As compared to what? A waffle?

Done reading... moving on...

how does this effect Moore's law (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034940)

Since I can not picture it ( even after read the article ) could someone explain what changes on the graph will happen. and if possible what would be the next stage after this ( given, I think I understand that quantum computing would be the current top of computing speed, but I can not figure out where this goes )

Re:how does this effect Moore's law (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035338)

I doesn't. If this technology finds it's way into processors, it won't happen for years (several turns). By then silicon technology will have continued to advance upward and will be hitting feature size limitations (we're at like 25 to 80 Si atoms across, depending on the process, now). Then there will be a gradual ramp up of the technology as the manufacturers learn to use it. Let's also not forget that IC interconnects and all the support chips outside the processor will introduce limitations.

Re:how does this effect Moore's law (1)

Cytotoxic (245301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035350)

Moore's law has to do with the number of transistors on a processor. So this doesn't directly impact Moore's law, unless they are also much smaller transistors that can be packed more densely. We use Moore's law as a proxy for "faster", but that's not what it entails - although more transistors has meant faster so far.

Strictly it doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035400)

Moore's law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware, in which the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

Moore's law is about quantity of transistors, not speed of computing, the two just tend to be highly correlated.

Imagine the speed (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034944)

Imagine at what speed the cards are going to come down and bounce in the "Solitaire" Windows game at 100 Ghz!

Re:Imagine the speed (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035050)

Fast enough for me to punch you in the face through the internet?

We can only hope.

Re:Imagine the speed (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035164)

I don't care, imagine at 100 Ghz how fast I can react... and punch you in the face, take your underware and wrap you up entirely in them, while you only got the time to tighten your hand with the intention to punch me!

Gotcha.

Re:Imagine the speed (0)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035772)

100gigahertz is nothing, Chuck Norris will give you 100 gigahurts.

Stupid question (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31034990)

graphene provides a promising potential replacement because electrons move through the material much faster than they do through silicon

Could someone elaborate on that statement? I assume that they mean that an electron will move through the material with "less interference", like light traveling through space will be "faster" (to reach its destination) than if it were traveling through matter. Is that what they mean?

Re:Stupid question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035236)

Yes. There are very few scattering events in graphene so the electron mobility is very high.

wow (0)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035000)

Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of those? [oblig]

2015:

"So what kind of computer you got these days?"

"Cluster...1 PetaHertz"

"LAME!! My stupidphone is faster than that. Get with the times, Dad!"

Interconnects (3, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035006)

Graphene will probably be at least as important as a replacement for metallic interconnects as for transistors. Much of the area of a chip is covered by interconnects they are responsible for much of the heat and delay.

Military Application? (2, Insightful)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035020)

I have my doubts on whether we'll ever see this because of two things from the article: "first applications of graphene transistors will likely be as switches and amplifiers in analog military electronics" and "Graphene's properties are very sensitive to its environment". This means IBM is placing dainty technology into the hands of the harsh military environment. I've heard how rigorously they test military electronics, and if Graphene is sensitive enough to require insulation, then it's never going to make it past those extreme environment tests they do. Has anyone else seen sensitive materials make it through military applications?

Re:Military Application? (3, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035196)

You're assuming that the transistors themselves will have to go into a hostile environment. Some of them do, but when you're talking about HPC then they'll probably be in a remote location, safe and protected (like Cheyenne Mountain, maybe near the Stargate...).

Re:Military Application? (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035270)

Has anyone else seen sensitive materials make it through military applications?

Don't expect a lot of responses to this question.

Re:Military Application? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035436)

They mean the gate dielectric (which is used for the majority of transistor designs, silicon or otherwise) not that the transistors need insulation from the environment - graphene is more sensitive to the dielectric material (ie the enivronment around the transitior) than silicon. Extreme external (ie military) environment is irrelevant as the entire chip is packaged up anyway.

Re:Military Application? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31036002)

All the time. They're called the airforce.

Other Applications (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035072)

I wonder what a fuzz box made of these would sound like...

9x faster, not 10x faster (3, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035140)

The prototype devices [...] can switch on and off [...] about 10 times as fast as the speediest silicon transistors.

These transistors are only about 9x faster than silicon, not 10x faster as the Slashdot headline claims.

Re:9x faster, not 10x faster (5, Funny)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035946)

These transistors are only about 9x faster than silicon, not 10x faster as the Slashdot headline claims.

Oh, well, in that case don't even bother.

Re:9x faster, not 10x faster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31036154)

9 x 1 = 9
10 x 1 = 10

Their math stacks up....

Cue comments games (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035146)

I can't believe we're this far and nobody is dreaming about how they can play their favority games at highest resolution. This will effect GPU as well.

Re:Cue comments games (0)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035322)

I can't believe we're this far and nobody is dreaming about how they can play their favority games at highest resolution.

You don't really need a high resolution to play nethack.

hold yer horses (5, Informative)

lurgyman (587233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035380)

Before you get yourselves worked up, realize there is no mention in this article or the original article in "Science" for applying this for computing. There's somewhat of a misstatement in the technology review article - if you look at the actual article in Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/327/5966/662), the 100GHz figure is the unity (or cutoff) gain frequency (e.g., how high of a frequency you can build an amplifier) and not switching. There is no mention of switching in the paper by the IBM scientists, and that is the application relevant to computing. Even TFA's expert is talking about using this in analog communication frontends, folks. Sorry.

Re:hold yer horses (1)

andrewagill (700624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035512)

I'm not sure if lurgyman is right, but TFA seems to be wrong. Quoting from Ars [arstechnica.com] here:

The graphene FETs in this work were tested up to 30GHz and, extrapolating those results, the authors showed that the FETs would operate, albeit poorly, up to 100GHz. Similarly sized Si devices are limited to 30GHz operation.[...]The 100GHz speed touted in the article's title is an extrapolation—no such properties were actually measured.

Re:hold yer horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31035678)

realize there is no mention in this article or the original article in "Science" for applying this for computing

Isnt the FET the basis of the IC...

So the leap to computing is not exactly that large.

Silicon still has legs so we will not see this for a long time.

Re:hold yer horses (1)

andrewagill (700624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036184)

Silicon is running out of legs, and fast. You might be able to push silicon to a 16nm process, but we'll have to push it very hard to make it to 11nm, which ITRS claims will be here by 2022. Beyond that, we'll see, but long time is probably less than 30 years. Which may be a long time, depending on your point of view.

overrated (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035794)

if the channel can pinch *almost* open/shut at 100Ghz, then the transistor can switch a lot faster than silicon, too.

Re:overrated (1)

lurgyman (587233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035936)

That's a big "if." They're talking about ft of the transistor used in saturation/active mode; for most devices ft is much higher than the maximum switching speed.

Re:hold yer horses (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31036222)

I agree. According to the Science article, "No clear current saturation was observed at drain biases up to 2V or before device breakdown." The basic "transistor" nature of a device dictates it must have both a linear AND saturation region for switching applications.

Graphene is ok for now (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035564)

graphene seems like a viable replacement until quantum computing gets to desktop
 
With everyone quitting smoking, we've run out of dead people's lungs to scrape carbon out of, so we've reached the limits of carbon-based CPUs and had to switch to graphene.
 
But the extra pencils from companies going paperless will only last so long. When we run out, we will have to switch to making quantum CPUs. Hopefully by then, making quantums will be a lot cheaper.

Organic Computers--should be able to chage extra (1)

engineerofsorts (692517) | more than 4 years ago | (#31035930)

Since Graphene-based computers are "organic", they should sell at a premium price, just like the worm-infested organic apples in the produce section.

Beware! (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31036310)

All right! Now we have a chip that we can get rid of using an eraser!

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