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. But a graduate student at Rice University has demonstrated that a well-known insulator – silicon oxide – may just be the minuscule digital switches of the very near future.
Researchers at a Rice University lab demonstrated last year that current could repeatedly break and reconnect tiny, 10-nanometer graphite strips to create reliable, very small memory bits. At the time they didn't understand why the graphite did this so well; now, grad student Jun Yao has figured it out, and it has little to do with graphite.
Using silicon oxide, an insulator, as the meat in a tiny semiconductor sandwich, Yao showed that the electrodes will strip oxygen from the silicon oxide leaving behind a small chain of nano-sized silicon crystals. That crystal chain can then be connected or broken repeatedly by varying the electrical charge passed through it, creating a tiny switch that is always either on or off. And by tiny, we mean very tiny; Yao's silicon oxide switch is just five nanometers (that's five billionths of a meter) wide.
The graphite switches that seemed impressive last year were double that size, and conventional electronics can't even come close to switches that small. Flash memory, in theory, will bottom out at 20 nanometers. Other conventional pathways might someday hit 10 nanometers, but it will be expensive to get there. Silicon oxide is already used in chip manufacturing and would be relatively easy to integrate into existing chip manufacturing tech.
Moreover, unlike flash memory silicon-oxide chips wouldn't need to hold a charge and it's perfectly suited to be arrayed in 3-D structures that can further help cram more switches onto a given switch, meaning chips get more memory for every nanometer of real estate. An Austin tech company is already testing a 1,000 memory element chip in collaboration with Yao and his colleagues at Rice. If the technology doesn't hit any serious obstacles, single chips with memory comparable to today's high-capacity disk drives could be a reality in just five years.
I can see that within the next decade computers are going to be faster and smarter than the human brain (~1000 TB).
TheFourth...thats not a major future prediction...computers have been faster and smarter than the avg human for years.
Hell...a chia-pet has been smarter.
Both you guys are wrong because we program computers unless the software is set to learn then we are smarter than they are
All the "computers will be smarter than the human brain" dates assume one neuron = one transistor, but it looks more like one neuron = one microcomputer, and we don't really have a clue how neurons work inside. Gillial cells, 10x more common, also contribute to our "processing power", and we know even less about them.
As wryip350 said, all the processing power in the world is meaningless if you don't have the software to back it up. We can't make a computer as smart as an insect in actual functionality, even though I'm sure supercomputers have more processing capability than a fly.
Imagine an SD size memory card holding 5 to 10 terrabytes. Wow that would be something. Just keep snapping pictures on the same chip for your entire LIFETIME! Imagine that!
@TheFourth Storage space has nothing to do with processing speeds. By the way a 1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte. Someday computers will be smarter than humans. But the only way it could be smarter than a human is if it was programmed to learn on its own. Otherwise the program would only be as intelligent as it's designers.
Toshiba JUST started making 24nm flash chips. It was in the news today on japantoday
Clay Dillow - "unlike flash memory silicon-oxide chips wouldn’t need to hold a charge"
Wiki - "Flash memory is a non-volatile computer storage"
Stop wighting about things you know nothing about, or at least have someone who understands technology proof read them before you publish. You where thinking RAM not flash.
This technology seems interesting but I suspect there will be a limit to how many cycles you can reuse the switches and it will probably be allot lower than conventional flash memory. This would not be a critical flaw - merely a caveat.
Uh...yeah. The only way a computer can be smarter than a human is if the software it is running is smarter than a human. To date...no one has written a program that is even close to being as smart as a cat.
If you were to take Albert Einstein and erase his memory...he'd be dumber than a rock.
Same thing with computers...the programming is what makes a computer "smart" or not. The computer's hardware does simple math VERY, VERY fast. It's nothing more than a very advanced calculator.
Well, the way I see it is, humans for the time is smarter than computers.
BUT! If we give them something called "consciousness" they will learn hell more faster than we can.
It took us about 10k years for the avg modern human to become what we are today.
I would take a huge @ss super pc + amazingly internet connection to learn what we've learned in the last ten thousand years in a century at the most.
I say we upgrade our brains instead of computers.
One problem with giving computers "consciousness", we humans have no idea what it really is or how it is produced, let alone give to some computer.
By the way for a perspective on the worry about Moore's Law ending any time soon. In the 1980's it was believed that Moore's Law was going to come to an end soon because the sizes were getting to the point people were worrying about the effects of quantum mechanics, didn't happen then, most likely won't happen this time either. People just came up with different ways to do it.
Perhaps you should do more research than blindly quoting wikipedia before spouting your mouth of.
Flash memory *does* operate by storing a charge - it uses tunneling to pile a bunch of charge carriers onto a floating gate, and the charge doesn't leak away (very quickly) due to the insulator surrounding it. The insulation is not perfect, however, and some charge does leak away over time - on the scale of years/decades. It's considered non-volatile because you can remove the power source for a significant amount of time without data loss - nothing to do with whether it "stores a charge" or not. Flash memory is thus not very suitable as a very long-term storage medium, whereas these oxide switches should be, in theory.
imagine buying the entire collected works of queen in hifi on one single micro sd card. i hope your listening sandisk.