Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Can our computers continue to get smaller and more powerful? University of Michigan computer scientist reviews frontier technologies to determine fundamental limits of computer scaling

Advanced techniques such as "structured placement," shown here and developed by Markov's group, are currently being used to wring out optimizations in chip layout. Different circuit modules on an integrated circuit are shown in different colors. Algorithms for placement optimize both the locations and the shapes of modules; some nearby modules can be blended when this reduces the length of the connecting wires.

Credit: Jin Hu, Myung-Chul Kim, Igor L. Markov (University of Michigan)
Advanced techniques such as "structured placement," shown here and developed by Markov's group, are currently being used to wring out optimizations in chip layout. Different circuit modules on an integrated circuit are shown in different colors. Algorithms for placement optimize both the locations and the shapes of modules; some nearby modules can be blended when this reduces the length of the connecting wires.

Credit: Jin Hu, Myung-Chul Kim, Igor L. Markov (University of Michigan)

Abstract:
From their origins in the 1940s as sequestered, room-sized machines designed for military and scientific use, computers have made a rapid march into the mainstream, radically transforming industry, commerce, entertainment and governance while shrinking to become ubiquitous handheld portals to the world.

Can our computers continue to get smaller and more powerful? University of Michigan computer scientist reviews frontier technologies to determine fundamental limits of computer scaling

Arlington, VA | Posted on August 13th, 2014

This progress has been driven by the industry's ability to continually innovate techniques for packing increasing amounts of computational circuitry into smaller and denser microchips. But with miniature computer processors now containing millions of closely-packed transistor components of near atomic size, chip designers are facing both engineering and fundamental limits that have become barriers to the continued improvement of computer performance.

Have we reached the limits to computation?

In a review article in this week's issue of the journal Nature, Igor Markov of the University of Michigan reviews limiting factors in the development of computing systems to help determine what is achievable, identifying "loose" limits and viable opportunities for advancements through the use of emerging technologies. His research for this project was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"Just as the second law of thermodynamics was inspired by the discovery of heat engines during the industrial revolution, we are poised to identify fundamental laws that could enunciate the limits of computation in the present information age," says Sankar Basu, a program director in NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate. "Markov's paper revolves around this important intellectual question of our time and briefly touches upon most threads of scientific work leading up to it."

The article summarizes and examines limitations in the areas of manufacturing and engineering, design and validation, power and heat, time and space, as well as information and computational complexity.​

"What are these limits, and are some of them negotiable? On which assumptions are they based? How can they be overcome?" asks Markov. "Given the wealth of knowledge about limits to computation and complicated relations between such limits, it is important to measure both dominant and emerging technologies against them."

Limits related to materials and manufacturing are immediately perceptible. In a material layer ten atoms thick, missing one atom due to imprecise manufacturing changes electrical parameters by ten percent or more. Shrinking designs of this scale further inevitably leads to quantum physics and associated limits.

Limits related to engineering are dependent upon design decisions, technical abilities and the ability to validate designs. While very real, these limits are difficult to quantify. However, once the premises of a limit are understood, obstacles to improvement can potentially be eliminated. One such breakthrough has been in writing software to automatically find, diagnose and fix bugs in hardware designs.

Limits related to power and energy have been studied for many years, but only recently have chip designers found ways to improve the energy consumption of processors by temporarily turning off parts of the chip. There are many other clever tricks for saving energy during computation. But moving forward, silicon chips will not maintain the pace of improvement without radical changes. Atomic physics suggests intriguing possibilities but these are far beyond modern engineering capabilities.

Limits relating to time and space can be felt in practice. The speed of light, while a very large number, limits how fast data can travel. Traveling through copper wires and silicon transistors, a signal can no longer traverse a chip in one clock cycle today. A formula limiting parallel computation in terms of device size, communication speed and the number of available dimensions has been known for more than 20 years, but only recently has it become important now that transistors are faster than interconnections. This is why alternatives to conventional wires are being developed, but in the meantime mathematical optimization can be used to reduce the length of wires by rearranging transistors and other components.

Several key limits related to information and computational complexity have been reached by modern computers. Some categories of computational tasks are conjectured to be so difficult to solve that no proposed technology, not even quantum computing, promises consistent advantage. But studying each task individually often helps reformulate it for more efficient computation.

When a specific limit is approached and obstructs progress, understanding the assumptions made is key to circumventing it. Chip scaling will continue for the next few years, but each step forward will meet serious obstacles, some too powerful to circumvent.

What about breakthrough technologies? New techniques and materials can be helpful in several ways and can potentially be "game changers" with respect to traditional limits. For example, carbon nanotube transistors provide greater drive strength and can potentially reduce delay, decrease energy consumption and shrink the footprint of an overall circuit. On the other hand, fundamental limits--sometimes not initially anticipated--tend to obstruct new and emerging technologies, so it is important to understand them before promising a new revolution in power, performance and other factors.

"Understanding these important limits," says Markov, "will help us to bet on the right new techniques and technologies."

####

About National Science Foundation (NSF)
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contacts
Steve Crang
University of Michigan
(734) 763-9996


Aaron Dubrow

703-292-4489

Principal Investigators
Igor Markov
University of Michigan
(734) 936-7829

Copyright © National Science Foundation (NSF)

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Igor Markov's research page:

Limits on fundamental limits to computation:

Related News Press

News and information

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Harris & Harris Group Portfolio Company, HZO, Announces Partnerships with Dell and Motorola August 1st, 2015

Advances and Applications in Biosensing, Sensor Power, and Sensor R&D to be Covered at Sensors Global Summit August 1st, 2015

Kalam: versatility personified August 1st, 2015

Hardware

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Introduces Ultra Thin High Performance Thermal Insulation Film for Cooling Personal Electronic Devices July 21st, 2015

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Launches Industry’s First 22nm FD-SOI Technology Platform: 22FDX offers the best combination of performance, power consumption and cost for IoT, mainstream mobile, RF connectivity, and networking July 13th, 2015

Graphene-based film can be used for efficient cooling of electronics July 10th, 2015

IRT Nanoelec Partners Achieve 3D Chip-stacking Technology & 3D Network-on-chip Framework for Digital Processing July 9th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Kalam: versatility personified August 1st, 2015

Heating and cooling with light leads to ultrafast DNA diagnostics July 31st, 2015

Theoretical Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin Develop New Insights into Interface between Classical and Quantum Worlds July 31st, 2015

Chip Technology

This could replace your silicon computer chips: A new semiconductor material made from black phosphorus may be a candidate to replace silicon in future tech July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Meet the high-performance single-molecule diode: Major milestone in molecular electronics scored by Berkeley Lab and Columbia University team July 29th, 2015

Short wavelength plasmons observed in nanotubes: Berkeley Lab researchers create Ludinger liquid plasmons in metallic SWNTs July 28th, 2015

Memory Technology

Controlling phase changes in solids: Controlling phase changes in solids July 29th, 2015

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity: UC Riverside researchers find a way to use the infrared region of the sun's spectrum to make solar cells more efficient July 27th, 2015

Spintronics: Molecules stabilizing magnetism: Organic molecules fixing the magnetic orientation of a cobalt surface/ building block for a compact and low-cost storage technology/ publication in Nature Materials July 25th, 2015

Better memory with faster lasers July 14th, 2015

Discoveries

Gold-diamond nanodevice for hyperlocalised cancer therapy: Gold nanorods can be used as remote controlled nanoheaters delivering the right amount of thermal treatment to cancer cells, thanks to diamond nanocrystals used as temperature sensors August 1st, 2015

Shaping the hilly landscapes of a semi-conductor nanoworld August 1st, 2015

Solid state physics: Quantum matter stuck in unrest August 1st, 2015

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Announcements

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Harris & Harris Group Portfolio Company, HZO, Announces Partnerships with Dell and Motorola August 1st, 2015

Advances and Applications in Biosensing, Sensor Power, and Sensor R&D to be Covered at Sensors Global Summit August 1st, 2015

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Gold-diamond nanodevice for hyperlocalised cancer therapy: Gold nanorods can be used as remote controlled nanoheaters delivering the right amount of thermal treatment to cancer cells, thanks to diamond nanocrystals used as temperature sensors August 1st, 2015

Shaping the hilly landscapes of a semi-conductor nanoworld August 1st, 2015

Solid state physics: Quantum matter stuck in unrest August 1st, 2015

Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration August 1st, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project