Feeds

Boffins baking big-data single chip architecture

Graphene, electrons and the end of 'conventional silicon electronics'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Some use software – caching, in-memory transactions or BigTable-style algorithms to cluster and control groups of servers. For others, the answer lies in the hardware: packing more cores into chips or making the transistors faster. Both schools are looking for ways to make applications, computers and servers capable of processing big volumes of data without cramping up.

US university researchers reckon these techniques have had their day, however, and have turned to nano electronics for the answer.

A team led by scientists from the University of California have returned to electrical engineering fundamentals with work that will produce a chip combining memory and logic. Only this will overcome what they call the “ultimate limits” of conventional silicon electronics the others are trying to circumvent. Today, you have memory in RAM and logic in the CPU connected by a bus that causes a bottleneck as instructions are relayed.

Their goal is to construct a functioning magnetologic gate that will be the building block of the new chip architecture and become the main element of a circuit.

The idea is to emulate the transistor, which paved the way for the integrated circuit and microprocessor – foundation stones of today's computers. The magnetologic gate will be used on circuits in intensive applications like search, data compression and image recognition.

The physics and astronomy – yes, astronomy – professor leading the project is Roland Kawakami, who told The Reg in an interview he reckons the magnetologic gate is just three years away from becoming reality.

“It’s completely rethinking how you do computing,” Kawakami told us. “We are in a crawling phase [now]. It’s similar to back 50 years ago, when they invented the transistor and they needed that one device. That’s the same for us.”

He’s been working on the ideas around this since 2010. His research spun out of work for DARPA, but about six months ago the project went live and landed a helpful $1.85m grant from the National Science Foundation and the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative whose members include IBM, Intel, AMD and Texas Instruments. The cash will fund 14 researchers and experts on five campuses. Kawakami is at UC Riverside and he will be joined by researchers at the University of California Irvine and the University of California San Diego as well as two universities in New York State whose expertise spans magnetoresistive memory, theoretical physics, circuit design, and constructing integrated circuits.

Magnetic memory

At the heart of the project is graphene, the wonder material that became popular in 2010 following the Physics Nobel prize-winning work of the scientists who discovered it: the University of Manchester’s Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov. Graphene has opened up new doors because it's super lightweight, thin and capable of conducting electricity.

The magnetologic gate uses a set of magnetic electrodes that are connected via graphene. Binary data is stored in the electrodes' magnetic state (ie: north and south produce zeros and ones respectively), while the logic is determined from the electron's spin state in the graphene.

Electrons and graphene were made for each other, as the former moves through the latter faster than it does through silicon – at 1/300th the speed of light, about 10 times as fast as electrons in conventional silicon devices – while its polarisation rate increases 30 per cent when compared to regular semiconductors.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.