IBM Wants Carbon Nanotubes in Commercial PCs by 2020

IBM Wants Carbon Nanotubes in Commercial PCs by 2020

Silicon Wafer colorful 310x

Carbon nanotubes would replace the aging silicon nanotubes found in today's processors.

If IBM has its way, the processors in all of your favorite devices will be carbon-powered by or around 2020.

Carbon nanotubes, which aren't as mature as the silicon transistors found in commercial processors, have more upside in the future. IBM just built a processor with 10,000 carbon nanotubes, packed tightly in six-tube configurations. These nanotubes are 1.4 nanometers wide, and 30nm long.

The long-term goal is to create carbon nanotube-based processors with billions of transistors, packing similar figures as their silicon counterparts. IBM is aggressively pushing carbon because the nanotubes behave very similarly to silicon transistors, which would make swapping the two materials a largely painless process in the future.

2020 is the target date because silicon transistors should hit the 5nm mark in 2019. Once the transistors reach that size, it's going to be incredibly difficult to bring silicon down even further. Once 5nm chips are out in the wild, IBM's plan is to have carbon-based chips -- which would theoretically be five times faster than their silicon counterparts -- ready for sale.

Right now, the chip in the computer you're reading this post on uses silicon-based transistors. Silicon transistors are great! We all love silicon, but we are quickly approaching the limits of what silicon transistors are capable of.

Intel currently makes most of its CPUs on a 22nm manufacturing process. That means each silicon transistor on the Core i7 or i5 in your computer is 22nm in size. 14nm transistors are coming later this year in Intel's Broadwell processor lineup.

22nm and 14nm are both incredibly small -- small enough to cram 1.4 billion transistors on a CPU right now -- but we are eventually going to hit a ceiling with silicon tech. Enter IBM, which is keen on swapping silicon out for carbon.

Source: MIT Technology Review

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Carbon vs Silicon - who will win this war between Humans and Xenomorphs?

Captcha: that will not work

Don't be so cynical!

I'd take the other side of that bet at even odds ... this is the same roadmap which EUV is on.

At this point process shrink projections are about as overly optimistic as GDP projections.

RA92:
Carbon vs Silicon - who will win this war between Humans and Xenomorphs?

Captcha: that will not work

Don't be so cynical!

It's not a war so much as "Give us computer labor while you continue to be an essential element in biology / be the 8th most common element in the universe / form 90% of Earth's crust."

I'm sorry, silicon. It's been great being with you all these years, but... I think it's time we both moved on. You see, I've met someone else, someone remarkable... someone who can do things that you simply can't. I've decided to make carbon a bigger part of my life.

If it makes you feel any better... every time I look at my reflection in a window, I'll see you there with me.

I remember in the place I work people were looking at carbon nanotube toxicity and what effects the material has on the body. There has been a good bit of that research in the past ten years and I think they found that in some cases exposure to the material is harmful as it can get across cell membranes. Wouldn't be an issue for the consumer but for people involved in production who are chronically exposed to the raw nanotubes. I'm sure IBM has their bases covered in any event but people dont often consider that these new magic materials you hear about might be harmful to them.

Devin Connors:
Carbon nanotubes would replace the aging silicon nanotubes found in today's processors.

I'm fairly certain we don't use silicon nanotubes in processors. Silicon, yes, but not in nanotube form.

I could be wrong, but they seem like a pretty recent innovation themselves.

SL33TBL1ND:

Devin Connors:
Carbon nanotubes would replace the aging silicon nanotubes found in today's processors.

I'm fairly certain we don't use silicon nanotubes in processors. Silicon, yes, but not in nanotube form.

I could be wrong, but they seem like a pretty recent innovation themselves.

I'm entirely certain that if transistors were currently made of nanotubes, we would have heard about it by now.

 

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