Physicists at the University of Maryland have shown that graphene, a sheet of graphite a single atom thick, can conduct electricity at room temperature better than any other known material, including silicon.
Electrons can travel up to 100 times faster through graphene than silicon, making it perfect for the next generation of computer chips and sensors.
But it doesn’t end at that. Graphene also has a smaller resistivity than copper, providing 35% less opposition to the flow of electric current. That would make it the lowest resistivity material as well. However, impurities in graphene make copper better at transferring electrons at the moment. With some refinement, though, we could see graphene overtake copper.
It looks like graphene is just about set to replace silicon in computer chips. The only question left is: where will Graphene Valley be? [via Gizmodo]
Tags: chip, electricity, graphene, silicon, university of maryland
Sun Microsystems has received $44 million in funding from DARPA to work on a way to connect multiple silicon chips using lasers instead of traditional wires.
Wires are a major bottleneck in multi-chip systems today because they slow down the rate at which the chips can communicate. Sun is now aiming to fix that problem by switching out the wires for tiny lasers. The company believes that if successful, the new technology could allow the chips to work up to a thousand times faster.
Unfortunately, Sun is only giving the project a 50% success rate, so we may not be seeing tiny lasers inhabiting our computers any time soon. Hopefully they can get it done though, because as Alan Huang says, “This would be a way of breaking Moore’s Law,” and we’d love to see some blazing-fast computers in the near future. [via New York Times]
Tags: chip, darpa, laser, sun microsystems
Posted in Computers
by Alex on March 14th, 2008
DigiTimes is reporting that, according to several sources, Intel is planning on launching the world’s first quad-core CPU for laptops – the Core 2 Extreme QX9300 – in Q3 of 2008.
Starting at an initial price of $1,038 (yes, that’s probably more than the price of the average laptop today), Intel doesn’t expect quad-core CPUs to become standard in laptops until late 2009. Even that, we think, is a conservative estimate. Dual-core CPUs are more than enough for most applications today, and it will be hard to find applications that can utilize all four cores in the near future.
The Core 2 Extreme QX9300 will be manufactured in a 45nm process and will run at 2.53GHz. It will feature a 12MB L2 cache.
Tech jargon aside, this thing will be very fast for a laptop processor, assuming that operating systems and programs can utilize all of its power. At those prices though, don’t expect to see the processor from mainstream manufacturers such as HP and Dell any time soon.
Tags: chip, core 2 extreme, intel, laptop, processor, quad-core
DARPA is funding research at the University of Wisconsin at Madison aiming to develop an energy-efficient, heat-resistant mechanical nanocomputer.
The scientists are essentially trying to create a mechanical version of today’s silicon computer chips that’s able to perform in extreme environments such as space, car engines, and battlefields. Instead of using transistors and other electrical components, a mechanical nanocomputer would rely on gates, pillars, levers, and pistons to perform calculations.
The mechanial parts mean that this computer is more rugged and can operate at much higher temperatures. It also uses less energy, mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t need a power-hungry cooling system as it produces very little heat unlike its electrical counterpart.
Although mechanical computer designs have been around for a while, this is the first attempt to squeeze such a computer into a tiny package. Imagine itty bitty parts moving inside of your cell phone when it needs to calculate something. Although this new tech probably won’t be used in our gadgets, it could prove to be very valuable in demanding space and military applications.
Tags: chip, darpa, efficient, mechanical nanocomputer, space, university of wisconsin
Researchers at Stanford University have invented a chip which can take pictures in 3D. Besides being able to reassemble the 3D image into a normal 2D photograph that we all know and love, the researchers can also figure out distances of objects in the photo.
The chip works by overlapping small 16×16-pixel patches, called subarrays, each hiding under its own lens. After a photo is taken, special software then analyzes it looking for small location differences for the same element in different patches. Based on this information the software is able to extrapolate the distance from one object to another at the time the photo was taken. Read more »
Tags: 3d photos, camera, chip, photo sensor, photography, stanford
Texas Instruments has unveiled a pair of new chips that allow cell phones to power mini projectors and give them high-definition video recording capabilities. TI is hoping to take a lead in the cell phone chip industry after falling behind to Qualcomm last year by developing chips that allow for significantly more advanced phones.
Cell phones will soon be able to project images onto a wall, overcoming the limitations of their tiny screens. The company expects commercial products harnessing the new technologies to show up in a year.
Nice going TI, this is some pretty cool stuff… the days of small screens and low-quality videos are over!
Tags: cell phone, chip, HD video, projector, texas instruments
IBM has announced details of a smaller, lower-power version of their Cell BE processor. Yup, that’s the same bad boy that powers your PS3.
The current Cell is manufactured on a 65nm process but the new one will be made with a next-generation 45nm process. The new Cell will use about 40 percent less power than its big brother and have a 34 percent smaller die area. This in turn means that the chip will run cooler, which means less cooling by the console resulting in a cheaper and more reliable PS3.
Unfortunately, no one knows if Sony will decide to pass on the savings to the consumer or keep the extra profit for themselves. It could be a while before a cheaper PS3 actually hits the shelves. Hopefully, though, this is sooner than later because at current prices the PS3 is still a bit hard to afford.
Tags: cell, chip, ibm, processor, ps3, sony
Texas Instruments has designed a proof-of-concept chip that uses a tenth of the power of modern-day chips. This is a huge innovation that could lead to far better battery life for anything that uses a chip and is powered by batteries including phones, medical devices, and sensors.
The jump in efficiency was attained by reducing the amount of energy flowing round the chip from 1.0 volts to 0.3. There is also a built-in DC-to-DC converter to greatly reduce power consumption without needing an external unit. Enough of the tech jabber and back to real life.
The chip uses so little energy that it can be completely powered by ambient heat sources, such as the body heat of a human. How awesome is that? We would love to see more advancements in this direction so we can ditch our chargers and power all of our gadgetry with body heat.
Tags: battery life, body heat, chip, efficient, energy, texas instruments