Feeds

HP moves towards molecular-scale computing

Will fab 16Kb memory by 2005

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

Hewlett-Packard has said its been awarded a key patent that could remove a major obstacle to making molecular-scale computing a reality.

This is what HP says about it:

The patent, issued by the U.S. Patent Office earlier this month to HP Labs scientists Phil Kuekes and Stan Williams, proposes a solution to the problem of connecting molecular-scale devices to today's much larger integrated circuits.

"We have a strategy to reinvent the integrated circuit with molecular rather than semiconductor components," said Williams, director of quantum science research, HP Labs. "We've received two key patents and have several more pending that we believe will eventually enable computers to be millions of times more efficient than they are today."

HP says it is pursuing molecular electronics as an entirely new technology that could augment silicon-based integrated circuits within the decade and eventually replace traditional solid-state memories. It believes silicon technology will reach key physical and economic limits by about 2012.

"Once you've built a circuit from molecular-scale devices -- something about the size of a bacterium -- the question is how you get data into and out of it," said Kuekes, computer architect and senior scientist, HP Labs. "In order to do that, you have to bridge the size gap between molecular-scale wires and current technology, which is about a hundred times bigger."

Tiny wires in today's integrated circuits are addressed through a device called a demultiplexer. However, building a demultiplexer requires an extremely precise, very complex pattern of connections. Since it would be virtually impossible to make such precise connections with molecular-scale wires, the new patent proposes making connections randomly using a chemical process. The resulting pattern can then be determined using computer algorithms.

"We've essentially created a city of streets crossed by avenues, but they're so tiny we can't paint the street signs," said Kuekes. "Instead, we have a chemical process that gives each street and avenue a unique name. Then we run a program that identifies all the thoroughfares by their names and enables us to create a map of the city. Once you have that map, you can store and retrieve information at any intersection."

HP and its partners at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), expect to be able to fabricate a 16Kb memory using this approach by 2005.

The work is being funded by a four-year, $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a $13.2 million investment from HP.

The new patent builds on one awarded in October 2000 that described a method for building a memory device from switchable molecules sandwiched between grids of nanometer-scale wires.

That patent, awarded to Williams, Kuekes and UCLA Professor of chemistry James Heath, was named one of the top five patents of the year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology journal Technology Review. In addition to the work described in that patent, the HP and UCLA collaboration also has demonstrated that molecular-scale electronic switches and the wires to connect them -- "nanowires" that are 6 to 10 atoms wide and 2 atoms tall -- can actually be made. Researchers from HP and UCLA are now working on fabricating circuits from these components. ®

Related Link

HP release - which we've copied

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.