In a move that could remake the microchip industry, Intel announced Wednesday it will start mass-producing the first three-dimensional silicon transistors. The 3-D transistor design, which Intel says will improve efficiency by more than one-third, will be integrated into a 22-nanometer node in an Intel chip called Ivy Bridge.
UC San Diego researchers have struck upon a novel idea that could make Android phones 11 times more efficient than they are currently: a custom-tailored processor that is optimized to run the most widely used apps on a given phone. Their GreenDroid chip might not only lead to better battery life in Android smartphones, but could help circumvent a fundamental problem in chip design that would otherwise soon become a major problem for chip efficiency in mobile devices.
The rapid pace of innovation and the relentless pressure of Moore’s Law means new and better gadgets are always coming to market, but it also means whatever you just bought for several hundred (or thousand) dollars will likely be obsolete in a matter of months (see: the iPhone through the iPhone 4). But a new kind of shape-shifting chip--if it can be tamed and perfected--could change all that, allowing device hardware to be reconfigured when updated designs become available.
Even with great strides being made regularly in the realms of nanotech and materials science, Moore’s Law – the notion that the number of transistors that can be placed on a given integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months – has for several years been bearing down on engineers who have shrunk conventional chip technology about as far as material limitations will let them.
Transistor junction, what's your function now? Irish researchers at the Tyndall National Institute have fabricated the world's first junctionless transistor, a nanotech development that could change the way semiconductors are manufactured.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.