IBM Bets on Nanotubes to Succeed Silicon in 2020

By Tiffany Trader

July 2, 2014

The effect of five decades of exponential progress with silicon chips doubling in speed every couple years as observed by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore in 1965 cannot be overstated. As silicon-based transistors push against the limits of physics, the death of Moore’s law could pack a devastating blow to the industry and even the global economy. It’s a big problem that has chip makers, like IBM, Intel and others, scrambling for a workaround. One of the most promising strategies for extending Moore’s law involves using carbon nanotube-based transistors.

Currently, Intel makes most of its CPUs on a 22nm manufacturing process, and its smallest silicon transistor measures 14 nanometers. The semiconductor industry group, ITRS, anticipates that the five-nanometer “node” will debut in 2019. It’s a point that may very well spell the death of silicon from a practical standpoint. That’s the opinion of Wilfried Haensch, who heads up IBM’s nanotube project at the T.J. Watson research center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

“That’s where silicon scaling runs out of steam, and there really is nothing else,” says Haensch in an article on MIT’s Technology Review.

When this day comes, IBM wants to have its carbon nanotube-based processors ready to roll out. It’s a plan that’s been many years in the making.

IBM’s history with carbon nanotube transistors dates back to 1998, when company researchers showed that it was a viable approach by building one of the first working prototypes. Now IBM is working to bring the technology to commercialization.

According to simulations carried out at T.J. Watson research center, the design that IBMers are implementing will be five times faster than silicon-based microprocessors using the same amount of power. The technology, while very real, is still in the design stage, however, and there are no guarantees it will pan out.

IBM obviously has a lot of investment sunk into the silicon-based manufacturing process so naturally the company is focusing on building a carbon-based transistor using similar design and manufacturing methods. The research group recently made chips with 10,000 nanotube transistors, using six-packs of nanotubes, each 1.4 nanometers wide and 30 nanometers long. The ends of the tubes make contact with electrodes which supply current, while a third electrode runs underneath and acts as a switch.

At this stage of design, the researchers cannot get the nanotubes close enough because existing chip technology doesn’t operate at that scale. They are working on a solution that would cause the tubes to self-assemble into position. The helper compounds would then be removed, leaving the nanotubes in the proper configuration ready for the electrodes and other circuitry to be added.

A lot is riding on the research. If the nanotube transistors are not ready in time to meet the post-silicon demand, they may miss their market opportunity, according to IBM’s James Hannon, head of the company’s molecular assemblies and devices group. But there’s not a lot of other options out there. Possibilities like spintronics exist, but they’re less mature, and don’t have the advantage of behaving like silicon transistors, so they wouldn’t be compatible with existing semiconductor manufacturing techiques.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

AI Thought Leaders on Capitol Hill

July 14, 2018

On Thursday, July 12, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology heard from four academic and industry leaders – representatives from Berkeley Lab, Argonne Lab, GE Global Research and Carnegie Mellon University – on the opportunities springing from the intersection of machine learning and advanced-scale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Serves as a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for the Information Age

July 12, 2018

In an age defined and transformed by its data, several large-scale scientific instruments around the globe might be viewed as a ‘mother lode’ of precious data. With names seemingly created for a ‘techno-speak’ glossary, these interferometers, cyclotrons, sequencers, solenoids, satellite altimeters, and cryo-electron microscopes are churning out data in previously unthinkable and seemingly incomprehensible quantities -- billions, trillions and quadrillions of bits and bytes of electro-magnetic code. Read more…

By Warren Froelich

Can Markov Logic Take Machine Learning to the Next Level?

July 11, 2018

Advances in machine learning, including deep learning, have propelled artificial intelligence (AI) into the public conscience and forced executives to create new business plans based on data. However, the scarcity of hig Read more…

By Alex Woodie

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Introducing the First Integrated System Management Software for HPC Clusters from HPE

How do you manage your complex, growing cluster environments? Answer that big challenge with the new HPC cluster management solution: HPE Performance Cluster Manager. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer today at an event presided over by DOE Secretary Rick Perry. Read more…

CSIR, Nvidia Partner to Launch GPU-Powered AI Center in India

July 10, 2018

As reported by a number of Indian news outlets, India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is partnering with Nvidia to establish a new, AI-focused Centre of Excellence in New Delhi, India's capital. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AI Thought Leaders on Capitol Hill

July 14, 2018

On Thursday, July 12, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology heard from four academic and industry leaders – representatives from Berkeley Lab, Argonne Lab, GE Global Research and Carnegie Mellon University – on the opportunities springing from the intersection of machine learning and advanced-scale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Serves as a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for the Information Age

July 12, 2018

In an age defined and transformed by its data, several large-scale scientific instruments around the globe might be viewed as a ‘mother lode’ of precious data. With names seemingly created for a ‘techno-speak’ glossary, these interferometers, cyclotrons, sequencers, solenoids, satellite altimeters, and cryo-electron microscopes are churning out data in previously unthinkable and seemingly incomprehensible quantities -- billions, trillions and quadrillions of bits and bytes of electro-magnetic code. Read more…

By Warren Froelich

Tsinghua Powers Through ISC18 Field

July 10, 2018

Tsinghua University topped all other competitors at the ISC18 Student Cluster Competition with an overall score of 88.43 out of 100. This gives Tsinghua their s Read more…

By Dan Olds

HPE, EPFL Launch Blue Brain 5 Supercomputer

July 10, 2018

HPE and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausannne (EPFL) Blue Brain Project yesterday introduced Blue Brain 5, a new supercomputer built by HPE, which displ Read more…

By John Russell

Pumping New Life into HPC Clusters, the Case for Liquid Cooling

July 10, 2018

High Performance Computing (HPC) faces some daunting challenges in the coming years as traditional, industry-standard systems push the boundaries of data center Read more…

By Scott Tease

Meet the ISC18 Cluster Teams: Up Close & Personal

July 6, 2018

It’s time to meet your ISC18 Student Cluster Competition teams. While I was able to film them live at the ISC show, the trick was finding time to edit the vid Read more…

By Dan Olds

PRACEdays18 Keynote Allan Williams (Australia/NCI): We’re Open for Business Down Under!

July 5, 2018

The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia hosted the third annual EHPCSW18 and fifth annual PRACEdays18 events which opened with a plenary session on May 29, 2018 Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek for HPCwire)

HPC Under the Covers: Linpack, Exascale & the Top500

June 28, 2018

HPCers can get painted as a monolithic bunch by outsiders, but internecine disagreements abound over the HPCest of HPC jargon, as was evident at ISC this week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This