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Nanowires Four Times Faster Than Silicon

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the now-put-it-in-the-deep-freeze dept.

114

evileyetmc writes "Advances in nanowires have shown that they may be the future in cheap, high-performance electronics. Researchers at Harvard have shown that nanowire transistors are are least four times faster than existing silicon ones. These nanowires show promise in being able to be embedded in plastics, and could lead to devices such as flexible displays that process information in the screen itself."

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Wrong Conversion (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571418)

Why do breast implants have to be faster?

Re:Wrong Conversion (-1, Offtopic)

KinkoBlast (922676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571444)

So that the ladies can have bigger breasts in less time, of course!

Re:Wrong Conversion (1)

flamingiceclone (918037) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571880)

its obviously been long since you went to the strip club...plus in the near future doctors would have the option of reverting the change if you miss your monthly payment for the augmentation......lol

Re:Wrong Conversion (0, Offtopic)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572008)

> Why do breast implants have to be faster?

So we can build a Beowulf clusters of breast implants!

Increased processing power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15572094)

The customer [carcino.gen.nz] base is larger than one might think:

Re:Wrong Conversion (5, Funny)

Moqui (940533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572098)

Just think of the distributed processing potential of the Los Angeles Basin! Millions upon millions of SETI cycles can be run just by the denizens of Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promonade. Drug research and nuclear explosion test data pulled from The Valley at an amazing clip.

And people say that the owners of these devices are airheads. Nay! These are the future foremothers of the next great technological revolution -- GLDPs (Gonad Localized Distributed Processing). I for one applaud these persons of the technical cusp!

Re:Wrong Conversion (1)

katsiris (779774) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572944)

"Drug research and nuclear explosion test data pulled from The Valley at an amazing clip.

Wouldn't you be pulling data from the hills and not the valley? Unless you're suggesting a cleavage antenna...

Re:Wrong Conversion (5, Funny)

szrachen (913408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572222)

You missed the point... I think they are trying to get the fake ones to move naturally.

Re:Wrong Conversion (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15572811)

Why has this comment scored so highly? Breast implants are made of silicone. It's a very different material.

Re:Wrong Conversion (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15573174)

Like you know...

Re:Wrong Conversion (1)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15574132)

Yes, that was a joke. Congratulations on figuring it out!

Re:Wrong Conversion (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15574553)

Maybe he needs bigger breasts

Re:Wrong Conversion (1)

joke_dst (832055) | more than 8 years ago | (#15574496)

Duh! It's a first post! First posts always get high scores! It's an unofficial rule here at slashdot! ;)

Not ready for prime-time yet (4, Interesting)

eaglebtc (303754) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571451)

The article says that we won't see this technology in computers and PDAs for a while because the relatively high cost of implementing mass production of nanowires cannot be justified by a mere 4x increase in speed. Its application will be limited to scientific research for now.

Still, there is hope for implanted computers.

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571527)

So, basically you're saying "Nothing to see here (yet). Please move along" ?

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (0, Offtopic)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571535)

Me too. Imagine a ditzy stripper with a couple of HPC boobs?

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (1, Offtopic)

pedalman (958492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571703)

Me too. Imagine a ditzy stripper with a couple of HPC boobs
Greetings, Earthling. I am from Slashdot. Tell me more of these strange objects you call "boobs". Are they consumables? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571846)

Me too. Imagine a ditzy stripper with a couple of HPC boobs?

Strippers aren't ditzy.



For thoose still with us, boobs with nano-screens showing more boobs ?
Come up with a way to slide credit cards for the picture-in-picture & you might be on to somthing.

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (2, Funny)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572039)

Strippers aren't ditzy.

Exactly. They're the intelligent overclass hiding behind a thin veil of pasties.

- or -

I guess we know how your mom put the food on the table.

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572159)

Exactly. They're the intelligent overclass hiding behind a thin veil of pasties.

I for one, welcome our new tig-o-bitty overlords.

I guess we know how your mom put the food on the table.

and a nintendo, new cloths, skateboards, bicycles...

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572151)

You don't want to know where they're putting the card reader...

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (1)

a55clown (723455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573209)

wrong-

i don't only want to know where the card reader is, i want to thoroughly inspect it.

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (3, Informative)

ggKimmieGal (982958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571571)

As time goes by, supply and demand will dictate the price of this new technology. Maybe ine 20 years from now it will be impossible to buy a silicon chip. At least, we can hope so. Nanotechnology has great potential to open the doors to inventions we cannot even begin to dream about. I suspect that over a very short time, these nanowire transistors will become even faster.
Still, there is hope for implanted computers.
If you mean computers implanted directly into my head... no thanks! Too creepy for me. Still, I know a whole bunch of people who are ready to get in line for that bit of surgery.

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (3, Insightful)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571729)

As time goes by, supply and demand will dictate the price of this new technology.

Obviously true, but the supply curve is largely determined by production costs. So if production costs remain high, the price will not fall.

That said, the history of technology is encouraging in the sense that production costs often fall - a lot.

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (2, Interesting)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573407)

So if production costs remain high, the price will not fall.

If the **AA, Oil Companies, or Microsoft are any indication, the price will not fall even if production costs do. I'm sure the first company to do this will have plenty of money and political palm greasing to be sure they are the only ones allowed to use it. For national security reasons of course, who knows what evil terrorists might do!

~Rebecca

Re:Not ready for prime-time yet (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571609)

The relatively high cost of implementing mass production of nanowires cannot be justified by a mere 4x increase in speed


So I guess we will see nano production of these wires then?

What about IBM's new transistor? (1)

ruben.gutierrez (913239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571456)

Sorry, I didn't read either articles, but the headlines seemed compatible. http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/ptech/06/20/ibm.chip. reut/index.html [cnn.com]

Re:What about IBM's new transistor? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571512)

No, that headline relates to this other story [slashdot.org] .

Re:What about IBM's new transistor? (2, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572022)

The IBM chip is silicon at extremely low temperatures (~4.5K). This story is about carbon nanotubes being used in transistors. Two completely seperate and unrelated technologies.

-Rick

Re:What about IBM's new transistor? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572036)

Opened my mouth too soon. After RTF(/.)A I see that this article is specificly about Nanowires, not carbon nano tubes.

-Rick

Re:What about IBM's new transistor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15572042)

At room temperature, it still runs at 300 GHz. These nanotubes would need to run at 1200 GHz.

nanowire != carbon nanotubes (2, Informative)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572110)

A nanowire is a wire of dimensions of the order of a nanometer (109 meters). They can be made out of Carbon Nanotube, but can also be made of other substances (e.g. Nickel, or Silicon)

Re:What about IBM's new transistor? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572377)

If you did a little more RTFAing you'd also know that IBM managed to hit around 350GHz at room temperature. Actually, you could have found that out just by reading the summary here on slashdolt.

Picking nits (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572587)

The IBM chip is silicon


Actually, it's silicon-germanium.

Re:What about IBM's new transistor? (4, Informative)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572077)

The difference is SiGe (Silicon Germanium) vs. Nanowire. The 500 gHz SiGe processor is something that can be made today. In fact it was made by IBM according to the article you linked to. The reason you don't see a commercial version probably has to do with the fact that it's expensive and consumes a lot of power. I would imagine it would be more economical to buy 500 1 gHz chips at $40 a piece (current bulk price for a 1 gZh chip). The nanowire chip has potential to be more economical. If we can learn how to incorporate them into current CMOS processes, they will be very useful because wires are actually one of the biggest components in chips believe it or not. These nanowires are so small (and apparently fast now too) that they'd make chips cheaper/faster/less power intensive.

Re:What about IBM's new transistor? (3, Informative)

Lorkki (863577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573526)

I would imagine it would be more economical to buy 500 1 gHz chips at $40 a piece (current bulk price for a 1 gZh chip).

Unless you require a single chip running at 500 GHz for some specific signal processing application - in which case the complexity of the chip would not be that tremendous and the manufacturing costs therefore much lower. Not all ICs are meant to be general-purpose computers, after all. (Not to mention that actual processing power doesn't grow in a linear fashion as you add cores, but that's beside the point.)

You're probably right in that nanowires will have applicability in a broader range, and the embedded market will most certainly be thrilled to get their hands at them.

Something strangely familiar... (-1, Troll)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571475)

"These nanowires show promise in being able to be embedded in plastics, and could lead to devices such as flexible displays that process information in the screen itself."

What, and this [apple.com] doesn't?

Re:Something strangely familiar... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571523)

No, it actually processes information BEHIND the screen (and I wouldn't actually call that flexible despite the desire to twist it in all kinds of crazy configurations by beating it up against your head).

Re:Something strangely familiar... (4, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571829)

What?!

Regardless of what Apple's marketing team tries to imply that camera is clearly build into the shell with the lens peaking through an opening above the monitor.

I know Apple likes to make their technology sound like it's more advanced than it really is, but rest assured that the display itself doesn't have a camera built in.

Re:Something strangely familiar... (1)

twofidyKidd (615722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572693)

I have no clue what the parent was referring to, but it could have been this device [newscientist.com] .

Electronic Paper (5, Interesting)

greenpenguin (859340) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571540)

Integrated with things like electronic paper, this would be brilliant - it would eliminate the need for a bulky separate processing unit. Imagine being able to hold a piece of paper that acts as a (very) basic computer...

Re:Electronic Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571584)

I would hate to be reading it when it overheats.

It's bad enough using a Macbook notepad as a laptop, an active blaze would reach new heights.

Re:Electronic Paper (3, Funny)

McBainLives (683602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571732)

Ah, yes- solve the age-old problem of newspaper ink getting all over you hands- now that newspapers are virtually obsolete.

One question though- say you wanted to do a flipbook-style animation using nanowire-paper. Would you just need the one piece?

Is there a danger of accidentally opening up some 5th dimension by flipping through a book of nanowire-papers, each of which displayed an animated 3d image?

Re:Electronic Paper (5, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572267)

Pssh. Newspapers aren't obsolete. That's like saying "In depth news in handy, portable, written format" is obsolete.

The media(e.g physical paper) may die, but the content will move on to the next sexy portable format that adequately fills all the niches that dumb paper (as opposed to smart paper) fills today. Despite what the average /.er maintains, the vast bulk of the population doesn't take their laptop with them into the crapper.

Trust me on this...If newspapers could ditch the whole "Printing and Delivery" thing, they'd do it in a heartbeat. That stuff causes an amount of heartbreak you can only faintly imagine, working outside of the industry. Your data center goes down? Relocate it to your backup site an hour away...then print 100 metric tons of paper, and move it back in time to distribute it to people's lawns before 5am. It's an all-night job on a normal day. But with reliable portable e-delivery? They'd be done at midnight. They could lay off 75% of their staff, and concentrate on a better product.

Re:Electronic Paper (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573056)

"They could lay off 75% of their staff, and concentrate on a better product."

got to fix that

"They could lay off 75% of their staff, and" buy more yachts.

Re:Electronic Paper (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573132)

the vast bulk of the population doesn't take their laptop with them into the crapper.
Believe me, when I have some vast bulk, I need a good selection of things to read (aka laptop & wifi).

Re:Electronic Paper (1)

a55clown (723455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573225)

some of us rely on taking that newspaper to the crapper for an entirely different reason.

Re:Electronic Paper (1)

Monkeys!!! (831558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573370)

"They could lay off 75% of their staff, and concentrate on a better product."

Sorry, I think you mean: They could lay off 75% of their staff, and pass the savings onto the executives.

Seriously though, the quality of newspapers would improve. Not because a newspaper could move funds to improve quality but because suddenly they would be competing with 20 other e-papers. Competition drives quality and price more then supply side factors.

Re:Electronic Paper (1)

McBainLives (683602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573999)

No- I meant exactly what I said: Newspapers (i.e. dissemination of information via broadsheet and ink) are obsolete. I was specifically referring to the medium (and the problem of ink coming off of the pages), and not to the concept of distributing in-depth news in a convenient, portable, written format. The latter is still a good idea, and coincidentally, it's accomplished much more effectively with a Treo or equivalent gadget, than with a bulky stack of paper full of full-page ads and yesterday's news. Sure the classic "newspaper" is still in use, but so are fountain pens and pocket watches. What can I say? Some people like anachronisms, and some habits are hard to break.

Why the newspaper publishers still bother is beyond me- corporate inertia, I suppose. I think Western Union only suspended telegram services within the past few years...

In any case- a typical "straw man" approach- raise a counter-argument against a weak point that was never raised. Take two 400-level classes and call me in the AM.

And BTW- I hope you leave your newspapers in the restroom when you're finished- it's really unsanitary to bring 'em back out. No need to go spreading staph infections among family and co-workers.

Good For Drivers? (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571848)

Yeah another device to distract people from driving.

Re:Electronic Paper (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571875)

it would also be great for drm - copyright control right up to the display.

Re:Electronic Paper (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573414)

that reminds me of a patent i read about, think it was microsoft that holds it.

basicly it was a user interface based on a folded sheet of paper ;)

want to read a e-book? fold it so that you can flip it open and closed, by holding one side still and flipping the other, you would page back and forth in the book.

interesting concept, and with nanowire-based cpu and storage, no need for much bulk outside of the energy storage unit...

In other news.... (-1, Redundant)

shikra (751390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571553)

Re:In other news.... (0, Offtopic)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571586)

How do you synchronize timing across a 1 THz chip?

Re:In other news.... (2)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571686)

you don't. yes i know that bridging clock domains is a major
source of instability and engineering headache, but independently
clocked functional units and fine-grained async designs already
exist, don't they?

Nano-future (5, Informative)

UberMench (906076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571582)

I have talked with engineers at Tokyo University about this technology, and they are very confident that nanotube transistors are the future of electronics, not only because of speed, but also because they have fewer heat dissipation problems. And the prospect of having technology for electronic displays that can be rolled up like paper for easy transport just r0x0rz!!!

Re:Nano-future (1)

skiflyer (716312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571784)

Who rolls up paper besides artists? Do you know if it can be folded?

Re:Nano-future (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572043)

Draftsmen also roll papers, and stoners.

Re:Nano-future (1)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571800)

they're also much smaller! So you can pack more of them into a smaller space with less crosstalk.

Re:Nano-future (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571971)

they said that in six years this tech should be ready and 4 times faster than current sillycone. Of course by that time the sillycone will be 4 times faster than these are.

Re:Nano-future (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572673)

Of course by that time the sillycone will be 4 times faster than these are.

Based on what? Has silicone gotten much faster in the past year?

Re:Nano-future (1)

karvind (833059) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573318)

I don't think you have done enough homework before posting here


(1) Nanowires are not made the same way as conventional transistors. You have to understand that part carefully because it also illustrates why, despite more than 15 yrs old, there are no carbon nanotube electronics. You have to put them precisely where one wants. A random spaghetti on a wafer is not useful. Thus methods that employ CVD process produce nanowires in all directions. There are some ideas to make them directional, but none of them has been feasible to make 1 billion aligned nanowires. Note the keyword - 1 billion. In university research, making 1 device is more than enough to graduate few students and publish dozen of papers. In industry, cost is the only thing which drives the technology.


(2) Variation: The article does mention that they still don't have any proper method of sorting out uniform nanowires. One of the biggest problem with conventional scaling (Along with power dissipation) is the variability. The 6 sigma variance in parameters can lead to incorrect operation. For Static RAMS (SRAMs, which is used in cache) this is a big problem. I would encourage you to look up papers on nanowires and see the variability. You will be surprised to see that many researchers conveniently ignore it.


(3) Nanowires doesn't necessarily solve the power problem. Yes they are faster, but their volume is smaller too. Do a back of envlope calculation and see the numbers for power densities and explain why would nanowires have less heat dissipation problems.


I am not demeaning this work and the article does mention where this will be useful. It is NOT going to replace silicon electronics but rather augment it. Silicon electronics is not good for flexibile substrates. And most of the flexible 'electronics' is done using amorphous silicon. There it makes perfect sense to use it. Also they mentioned about making sensors. Again in sensors only the sensing part will be based on nanowires and rest of the data processing will be done with conventional CMOS circuits (because it is efficient).

Complicated lithography (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571588)

"Complicated lithography" is why we can stuff so many (millions) transistors on a chip. LSI would be impossible without it or a similar process. The idea of something that you have to sort and handle on an individual basis makes these transistors a non-starter for most applications. On the other hand, something like this could be used for microwave amplifiers. They could also be used the same way we now use ECL; as front-end flip-flops which convert signals to lower clock rates that can be dealt with by conventional circuitry.

So does that mean they clock in at 2.0THz? (1, Redundant)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571594)

'cause that'd be four times faster than silicon... [slashdot.org]
 
and no, I most certainly did not RTFA; this is Slashdot/em.

More Info (5, Informative)

Gridpoet (634171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571616)

There is a great in-depth article here

http://uw.physics.wisc.edu/~himpsel/wires.html [wisc.edu] ... very fascinating stuff the potential for small scale electronics is just staggering.

i wonder how long before they can mesh nanowires directly to nerve cells... plug me in!

Re:More Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15573374)

OMFG! A porn revolution!

CPU Futur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571640)

Think about what IBM will be able to do with nanowires
if they already have a "500 GHz Silicon-germanium (SiGe) chip"...

If this article is right, 4 x 500 GHz = 2000 GHz chip...
we will be fare away from today cpu chips...

Breaking out a 512k encryption key will be a piece of cake for hacker...

Re:CPU Futur (1)

Rdickinson (160810) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573688)

Soon it wont be how many library of congreses does it hold but how many you use as your encrypt key...

Ah, even more restrictive than HDMI (5, Interesting)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571691)

"...flexible displays that process information in the screen itself."

Now the signal doesn't just get decrypted in the monitor, it doesn't even get decrypted and displayed until it reaches the display surface itself. Still doesn't close the analog hole, though...

Re:Ah, even more restrictive than HDMI (2, Funny)

drgould (24404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571794)

Still doesn't close the analog hole, though...

Wait til they can implant nanowire processors right into your eyeballs. Then they can decrypt the video when it reaches your retina. That'll close that nasty analog hole.

Re:Ah, even more restrictive than HDMI (2, Insightful)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572603)

It would give a whole new meaning to Eyes Only levels of secrecy. Nanowire paper which is displaying encrypted data that can only be decrypted by someone with the correct processors in their eyeballs.

Re:Ah, even more restrictive than HDMI (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572665)

I realize that the post was at least partially a joke, but I think it would be more likely that the video stream would be directly fed to the optic nerve as a replacement signal rather than processed via supplemental optical sensors implanted in the eyes. This eliminates the added overhead involved in decrypting an optical signal of varying size (depending upon distance from the source) and orientation (since our muscles are constantly adjusting while a signal is being sent from the brain not to mention the inhererent "jitter" from the vast consumption of caffeine).

Re:Ah, even more restrictive than HDMI (3, Funny)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572607)

Still doesn't close the analog hole, though...

I hear the MPAA is working on Sharp Stick(tm) technology for that.

Closing the goatse.cx hole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15572928)

"Still doesn't close the analog hole, though..."

Let's put that to a test. How many here will give up digital media (of all forms), and go back to analog equivalents? How about the rest of the planet? Didn't think so. Saying you'll use the analog hole is a rather meaningless threat. The time for your threat would have been before digital came upon the scene. But then there wouldn't have been the real danger that digital represents either.

Lighter, faster, thinner! (2, Interesting)

Lord of Hyphens (975895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571702)

I do see a lot of potential for this technology for embedded systems use--particulary 'smart maps'--if we can embed display control electronics physically closer to the displays (lighter, thinner, etc). Once costs are researched down, some really neat shit is in the offing (OLED + nanowidth signal processors, anyone?).

Tubg1Prl (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571844)

BSD c0lminated in short of a miracle Laaged behind,

Isn't here more to it than 4x speed increase? (5, Interesting)

Keyslapper (852034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571845)

I'm not an EE, so I might be wrong about some of this, but this is how I understand things - please corroborate or correct as appropriate.

If the "hardware" is actually 4x faster than silicon, then that's a 4x increase for similarly scaled systems, right? The thing is that this technology can generate huge improvements in one of the primary focal points in chip design (aside from materials) over the last couple decades: smaller scale. There are several advantages to this: speed, heat, and power consumption, to name the top 3.

If you only have to send a signal 1/10th the distance to get it processed, that's a 10x increase in the throughput. If the processing also takes place in an area 1/10th the size, that's a full 10x increase in speed for the same construction material. (I pulled that 1/10th out of the air for ease of use, I realize nanowires could potentially construct circuits much smaller than this scale compared to current silicon architecture.)

Now, make that material 4x faster on top of the scaling improvements, and you have, not a 4x improvement, but a 40x improvement, right? Is there some glaring technical detail I'm missing?

Re:Isn't here more to it than 4x speed increase? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15571913)

How exactly are you going from 1/10th the distance to 1/10th the throughput? That's some nifty magic there. How is it that a highway 1 mile long pushes more traffic through than one 10 miles long? Latency, sure. Throughput, no.

Re:Isn't here more to it than 4x speed increase? (4, Informative)

Spellunk (777915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572139)

Your first paragraph seems right on, but the second doesn't seem to make sense. The length of the traces have little to do with speed, it is the actual switching speed of the transistor from off to on that causes the delay. Nano wires and transistors may switch faster, but the additional 10x improvement may come from heat/density savings, not the signal path length.

Re:Isn't here more to it than 4x speed increase? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15573036)

doesnt signal path length have an effect tho? i seem to remember hearing that the second cray supercomputer (i think it was cray) was made a bit faster jus by shortening all the wires.

Re:Isn't here more to it than 4x speed increase? (2, Informative)

Chrononium (925164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573154)

Yes, changing the length of the signal path does make a difference, but typically, computers process stuff at relatively low (compared to light) frequencies, implying that only a small performance benefit will be obtained by shortening signal paths. The biggest limitation to speed are the switching times of the transistors. Once you get down to the point where changing signal path length provides the best performance increase of all possible changes to the technology, you're hitting the physical (electromagnetic) limit of that material.

Re:Isn't here more to it than 4x speed increase? (2, Informative)

solitas (916005) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573402)

Switching time (i.e. lead capacitance) is the worst bottleneck in chip operation: it can take a (relatively) long time to go from 'yup-that's-definitely-a-zero' to 'yup-that's-definitely-a-one'.

This will be expensive... (5, Funny)

cycletronic (918616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571867)

... since whenever I get frustrated with buggy code I'll just crumple up the monitor and throw it away.

Re:This will be expensive... (1, Funny)

mr_flea (776124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572154)

And your neighbors might get tired of the cries of anguish after you realize a few minutes later that it was also the computer...

Sorting problem. (4, Interesting)

swagr (244747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15571895)

I have a freind who does nanotube research.
The problem, as I understand, is sorting.
Not all nanotubes are conductive, and they can't be manufactured selectiveley.
But otherwise they behave similarly.

It's like me giving you a pile of billions of wires and saying: "Here, some of these conduct, and others don't. Now start sorting."

Re:Sorting problem. (4, Informative)

jnaujok (804613) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572417)

The FA is about nanowires not nanotubes. They specifically point out the large difference between the two and say that nanowires can be made reliably and require no sorting. They also state that they are easy to make at room temperature.

What I find intriguing is that the article mentions how conducive nanowire technology is to three dimensional circuit construction with a per-layer size of 100nm. That means I can build 1100 layers into a 0.11 mm thick sandwich. How about 100 Athlon 64 CPUs intermixed with 1000 1GB memory arrays? With how reliable they are claiming this technology is, that would represent a 100 core CPU, with 1 Terabyte of memory mixed in. Seems like this is clearly the future of the CPU market. Especially if the heat disappation is as good as they claim.

How do you like my new Athlon 64 X100 with 1TB of memory running at 16 GHz?

Re:Sorting problem. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572660)

How do you like my new Athlon 64 X100 with 1TB of memory running at 16 GHz?

...talking to the world on 1 hypertransport link with the same graphics card as everybody else. POP - headshot!

Re:Sorting problem. (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572791)

They used to make coprocessors for floating-point math too.

Re:Sorting problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15574013)

"How do you like my new Athlon 64 X100 with 1TB of memory running at 16 GHz?"

WooHoo... 10 to the 10th Pr0n Action!!1!!!!1

This is NANOWIRES, not nanotubes. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572835)

I read an earlier article about nanowire transistors [physorg.com] .


While the nanowire transistors Lieber and his colleagues demonstrated are comparable to but slightly worse in performance to the best ones made with carbon nanotubes, theirs can be made with reproducible electronic characteristics "unlike carbon nanotube FETs, and this is absolutely essential for moving beyond single nanowire or nanotube devices," he said.

Re:Sorting problem. (1)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573147)

Well, then twist those wires together and you have a conducting cable.

Re:Sorting problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15573486)

It's like me giving you a pile of billions of wires and saying: "Here, some of these conduct, and others don't. Now start sorting."

Apply potential difference and a magnetic field, conductors move and non-conductors don't.
The details of how to make this actually work as an industrial process are left as an exercise for the reader :)

OLED. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15572264)

Wonder if this will make the OLED wallpaper a reality. Would love to have a whole wall as a TV!

Maybe I should hold off buying that Panasonic 600U Plasma and wait for the OLED wall paper.

Hey wait a second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15572269)

Where is my 2 Thz processor? I WANT IT NOW!

Out just in time (4, Funny)

snoggeramus (945056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572656)

4x faster? At least it will be out just in time for Vista.

Nano-stuff (3, Interesting)

chullymonster (695441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572773)

People are throwing money at nano-this and nano-that because it has great PR, but nothing as yet has come remotely close to being a credible alternative to silicon CMOS for ULSI devices. Consider where silicon CMOS is at the moment - we can put a billion transistors all together on the same logic chip for tens of dollars. A bit of DRAM costs less than a billionth of a dollar. This is what we can do now - think how much further it will have gone in 15 years, when the new nano-stuff is supposed to be competing. Any new technology will have to be considerably better than what is already available for anyone to invest in it, and looking at the current state of things it's just not going to happen. They are banking on miracle breakthroughs. There is also a credibility issue with manufacture and interconnect. It's one thing to make one super-fast nanotube transistor and say "ooh, look how good it is!" But it's quite another to be able to put a trillion of them on the same chip, all wired together, for cheaper than CMOS. That is what they are going to have to do to compete with where silicon will be in 15-20 years. To be fair, the guy in the article seems well aware of this.

Re:Nano-stuff (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15574319)

The problem is that the industry sees itself as not too much farther along in 15-20 years unless someone does something fundamentally different - like these nanowires. There has been a lot of talk and real concern over the possibility that moore's law has met murphy's law.

Flexible/Rolled up! (1)

cinderful (586168) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572925)

Do we actually want flexible computers?
Do we really want to roll up our processors like a newspaper?

Every other new future technology seems to include the phrase "and then you can roll it up just like paper!"

But there's a whole industry out there selling things to PREVENT paper from rolling up and being flexible!
We store paper so it doesn't roll up or bend, we print it in such a way to prevent rolling or curling and now I'm supposed to believe in the future we're magically going to WANT paper-thin electronics so we call roll them up??

I don't want my computer rolled up.
I want it small, cool, quiet, and light - but heavy enough that my box doesnt blow off my desk when someone walks by or I sneeze wrong . . .

Sure they're faster....they're shorter. (2, Informative)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15572979)

They're shorter. If you are talking about speeds measured at this kind of scale, the length of travel is a significant part of that speed gain. If you make the little electrons run further, they take longer to get here. The little bastards fairly sprint through the nanowires though.

Sensational headline, but silicon still kicks ass. (2, Insightful)

Back from the dark s (966237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15573576)

It's going to take years for these sorts of things to be made manufacturable. Meanwhile, if you give things another 4 years or so, conventional transistors made from doped silicon will be more than 4x as fast at about 1/100th the cost. While Moore's law is slowing down, it's not dead yet! We still have plenty of improvement to be had and the costs per transistor will continue to drop over time.

Nanotechnology is unlikely to make any significant impact in the next 10 years. We may make significant advances in the research lab, but that doesn't mean there will be any products. I'm thinking it may be slightly better than nuclear fusion...

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