Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Faster chips with nanowire switches

A team at Hewlett Packard has modeled a nanowire switch that more efficiently routes signals within computer chips. The technology, called Field Programmable Nanowire Interconnect (FPNI), allows faster processing with lower power consumption.

The technology is being heralded as a boon for maintaining Moore's Law. In April 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore observed that integrated circuit transistor density appeared to be doubling approximately every 18 months, and that the trend may be sustainable for at least ten more years. The trend, later dubbed "Moore's Law," actually continued much longer and through today. Nevertheless, recently, the physical limits of existing chipmaking appeared to be reaching capacity, and maintaining Moore's Law through the next decade appeared increasingly unlikely. FPNI shows promise in allowing the Moore's Law trend to continue; the nanowire switch technology provides a framework to increase transistor density by eight times.

Further basic information can be found in these articles by the Associated Press and PC World. The Hewlett Packard research appears in the journal Nanotechnology and is available online.

picture of a computer chip
photo: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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