IBM predicts carbon nanotube technology may be the answer to solve the demise of Moore's Law. The tech giant expects to have its first carbon nanotube chip on the market by 2020 and believes this technology will be a reliable way to scale chips well below 10nm. Full details at ExtremeTech.
The first CNT transistors were built in the late 1990?s but since then we’ve made little progress in creating chips with billions of those transistors packed densely and — above all — affordably. IBM has already demonstrated the ability to create processors with about 10,000 transistors, but that’s still a long, long way off what we’ll need. The manufacturing process they’ve chosen for this project sees units of six CNTs acting as each transistor. They’re about 30 nanometers long and 1.4 wide, spaced eight nanometers apart — given their calculations, a CNT processor could be six times faster than a modern silicon chip for the same power draw.
CNTs 2It’s unclear whether IBM has made a specific breakthrough that led it to this announcement or just a general feeling of progress and meaningful forward movement. Either way, the company is upfront about the fact that if CNT computers don’t manage to make some sort of move by around the year 2020, the window of opportunity may close. Potentially competing technologies are also under development, from quantum computers to optical computers and beyond, and their potential to increase computational power is far greater than CNTs.