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Unformatted text preview: ms is described by Shahro kh Daijavad, so f tware lead f o r next-generatio n co mputing
systems at IBM, as “o ne o f the hardest things yo u learn in co mputer science.”A. Ashto n, “Mo re Lif e
f o r Mo o re’s Law,” BusinessWeek, June 20, 2005. Micro so f t’s chief research and strategy o f f icer
has called co ding f o r these chips “the mo st co nceptually dif f erent [change] in the histo ry o f mo dern
co mputing.”M. Co peland, “A Chip To o Far?” Fo rtune, September 1, 2008. Despite this challenge,
so me o f the mo st aggressive adapto rs o f multico re chips have been video game co nso le
manuf acturers. Video game applicatio ns are particularly well-suited f o r multiple co res since, f o r
example, o ne co re might be used to render the backgro und, ano ther to draw o bjects, ano ther f o r
the “physics engine” that mo ves the o bjects aro und, and yet ano ther to handle Internet
co mmunicatio ns f o r multiplayer games. Ano ther appro ach that’s breathing mo re lif e into Mo o re’s Law mo ves chips f ro m being paper-f lat
devices to built-up 3-D af f airs. By building up as well as o ut, f irms are radically bo o sting speed and
ef f iciency o f chips. Intel has f lipped upward the basic co mpo nent o f chips—the transisto r.
Transisto rs are the supertiny o n-o f f switches in a chip that wo rk co llectively to calculate o r sto re
things in memo ry (a high-end micro pro cesso r might include o ver two billio n transisto rs). While
yo u wo n’t no tice that chips are much thicker, Intel says that o n the miniscule scale o f mo dern chip
manuf acturing, the new designs will be 37 percent f aster and half as po wer hungry as co nventio nal
chips.K. Bo urzac, “Ho w Three-Dimensio nal Transisto rs Went f ro m Lab to Fab,” Techno lo gy
Rev iew , May 6, 2011. New Materials & Quantum Leaps? Thinking Beyond Moore’s Law‐
Think abo ut it—the triple threat o f size, heat, and po wer means that Mo o re’s Law, perhaps the
greatest eco no mic gravy train in histo ry, will likely co me to a grinding halt in yo ur lif etime.
Multico re and 3-D transisto rs are here to day, but what else is happening to help stave o f f the
death o f Mo o re’s Law? Every o nce in a while a material breakthro ugh co mes alo ng that impro ves chip perf o rmance. A
f ew years back researchers disco vered that replacing a chip’s aluminum co mpo nents with
co pper co uld increase speeds up to 30 percent. No w scientists are co ncentrating o n impro ving
the very semico nducto r material that chips are made o f . While the silico n used in chips is
wo nderf ully abundant (it has pretty much the same chemistry f o und in sand), researchers are
investigating o ther materials that might allo w f o r chips with even tighter co mpo nent densities.
New pro cesso rs made with haf nium-based high-k co mpo nents can pack circuits tighter, leading
to f aster chips that require less wattage than traditio nal silico n...
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