Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Faster, Cheaper Computer Revolution May Soon End, Say UF Researchers

Date:
September 22, 1997
Source:
University Of Florida
Summary:
The era of smaller, faster and cheaper computers may soon end because microscopic silicon chips are getting so small that eventually they will contain too few atoms to work, warn two University of Florida researchers.

Source: Kevin Jones/Mark Law
(352) 392-9872/ 392-6459

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The era of smaller, faster and cheaper computers may soon end because microscopic silicon chips are getting so small that eventually they will contain too few atoms to work, warn two University of Florida researchers. "The 'road map' says that in about the year 2010 the limit will be reached. Microprocessors will be as small and as fast as they can get. This unhappy news will have an enormous impact on the national economy," said Kevin Jones, professor of materials science and engineering and co-director of UF's SoftWare and Analysis of Advanced Material Processing, the SWAMP Center.

Jones and SWAMP co-director Mark Law are concerned that the heart of the Pentium processor transistor, a layer that once was thousands of atoms thick, is getting so small that it soon will be only 50 atoms thick. They say the Pentium processor may eventually shrink itself out of function when it gets to be fewer than 10 atoms thick, in just over a decade. That means unless there is a revolutionary change in computer technology, the trend toward smaller, faster computers will have reached its limit.

"The computer industry has its back against the wall," said Law, professor of electrical and computer engineering. "The enormous increase in speed and memory of today's computers came from the ability to make the heart of the microprocessor smaller. But the smaller devices get, the fewer atoms they contain. If the computer industry is going to keep growing and continue to deliver faster products to keep up with consumer expectations, this is a serious challenge that has to be overcome today."

The crisis, they say, was predictable, but the industry has always been able to dodge the bullet.

"For 30 years, people in the computer industry have predicted the 'just-a-decade-away' demise of the continually shrinking, ever-faster but still inexpensive computer chip," said Law. "But clever people have been able to push that 10-year window ever farther out."

The effectiveness of the incredible shrinking Pentium processor is threatened not only by the declining number of atoms, but also by the impurities in microscopic silicon chips. To shrink the transistors requires an understanding of the impurities. Law and Jones are using 3-D computer simulation to investigate the nature of the impurities in silicon, which Law said can cause current to flow where it is not supposed to.

"The bottom line is that impurities in silicon affect the transistors," said Jones. "The question facing us now is, how do you keep three atoms where you put them and keep the impurities from washing out the crystal? Impurities can cause catastrophic failure."

The failure can occur when the impurities run into the crystal and cause the electronic switches to short circuit, said Law.

"We are making predictive models for the industry, trying to do as much testing as possible using computer simulation because testing with real materials is so expensive. We need to know how impurities diffuse, at what rate and at what temperature," said Law. "We can then code that data and build predictive models that allow the industry to design and build better chips."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Florida. "Faster, Cheaper Computer Revolution May Soon End, Say UF Researchers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970922144637.htm>.
University Of Florida. (1997, September 22). Faster, Cheaper Computer Revolution May Soon End, Say UF Researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970922144637.htm
University Of Florida. "Faster, Cheaper Computer Revolution May Soon End, Say UF Researchers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970922144637.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is Apple's iMessage Really Being Overrun By Spammers?

Is Apple's iMessage Really Being Overrun By Spammers?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) A report says more than one third of all SMS spam over the past year came from a "single campaign" using iMessage and targeting iPhone users. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) In the wake of a high-profile harassment case, Twitter says family members can ask for photos of dying or dead relatives to be taken down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ballmer Leaves Microsoft's Board, Has Advice For Nadella

Ballmer Leaves Microsoft's Board, Has Advice For Nadella

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) In a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Ballmer said he's leaving the board of directors and offered tips on how the company can be successful. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Google Can Gain From Special Accounts For Children

What Google Can Gain From Special Accounts For Children

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Google will reportedly offer official accounts for children younger than 13 years old. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins