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4D Transistors to Continue Speed Gains

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 08:07PM

Silicon, you have served us well, but soon your time will end, as we push through barriers you simply cannot overcome. Exactly what will replace you is still being determined, but researchers at Purdue University have designed a new kind of transistor made from indium-gallium-arsenide that is at least intriguing, if not amazing.

To reach the impressively small transistors we have now at 22 nm, the designs have gone vertical and are no longer the traditional 2D planes. This new design is also vertical, with three tiny nanowires stacked on top of each other, but goes a step further. Dubbed "4D" transistors by one of the researchers, this design actually shows improved performance when the transistors are built directly on top of each other.

This ability to stack transistors will obviously lead to faster processors as more transistors will be able to fit in the same area, but that is not the only way to fit more of these a die. The gate size for this design is just 20 nm, which may not be much smaller than the 22 nm of modern processors, but still is smaller.

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Jeanette on December 21, 2012 01:58PM
Contemporary netbooks have posecosrrs that are orders of magnitude faster than Pentium Pro or PentiumII, therefore netbooks should be able to do at least what older desktop posecosrrs could do. And what could you do with an old processor? Surely much more than simple network access: you could do video editing, server execution, and mathematical research. Netbooks, therefore, can also do all of these tasks adequately: video editing, server execution, and mathematical research. So, I really fail to see why one should see netbooks as purely network access terminals. If our demands are reasonable we can do everything we want with our netbooks, including video editing if we edit at a reasonable resolution. People once had no more than 300-400MHz CPUs and yet they managed to do 3D games. Just because today we have more powerful machines does not mean that we cannot tolerate lower-resolution 3D graphics or lower-bitrate videos. Another thing that we must think of, however, is that we should quit the mentality of a machine for network access or a machine for video editing , because every customer is different. Most people associate SSE with multimedia but they can be used for mathematical research just fine. You can never know how the end user is going to use your product, so you should keep in mind that you should design it as much a general-purpose machine as possible to attract the greatest number of customers. Netbooks can be used as desktop-replacements for people with reasonable needs with no problems just by plugging in an external monitor, keyboard, and maybe some USB storage. And thanks to their low power usage, quietness, and SSD, netbooks can be great as home servers. In my opinion the main definining characteristics of netbooks are not that they are machines for network access but that they are up to 7-8.9 screen size (so that they are mobile) with a classic clamshell notebook keyboard/pointing device configuration (so that they emulate larger laptops), SSD storage (so that they are indestructible), cheap (so that they can be thrown away and replaced at will), and being equipped with a x86-based processor (so that you can run the same software you run on a larger laptop, desktop, or server with no need to recompile or port).

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