Saturday, December 10th 2011
The process of microchip miniaturization continues apace, with researchers at McGill University and Sandia National Laboratories having build a circuit that has two wires that are separated by a mere 150 atoms having built them at the incredibly tiny 15 nm (nanometres) level. Circuits of this size should bring all the usual benefits of reduced power and heat, along with greater functionality due to the larger transistor density. Of course, the challenges of working at this level are great. Dan Olds, an analyst at The Gabriel Consulting Group said of this research: "This kind of research also uncovers other potential problems arising from ever smaller shrinks. Getting to 15nm or 16nm will mean smaller and more powerful devices that are more energy efficient. But when we're talking about such a small scale, designing chips that can be mass-produced with decent yields is quite a challenge. There will also be challenges for the design of devices that will use these processors." Of course, the benefits are significant and therefore well worth the challenge: "Devices based on 15nm processes will pack more performance and functionality into much smaller form factors. Functions that used to take two or more chips will be accomplished by one transistor-jammed processor." Of course, Intel, the world leader in chip manufacturing is also researching manufacturing at this process node, but there isn't much information available about it at this time.