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Frozen Chip from IBM hits 500 GHz 417

Posted by timothy
from the there's-a-catch-,,, dept.
sideshow2004 writes "EETimes is reporting this morning that IBM and Georiga Tech have demonstrated a 500 GHz Silicon-germanium (SiGe) chip, operating at 4.5 Kelvins. The 'frozen chip' was fabricated by IBM on 200mm wafers, and, at room temperature, the circuits operated at approximately 350 GHz."
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Frozen Chip from IBM hits 500 GHz

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  • Ah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by irn_bru (209849) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:13AM (#15568027)
    Still hope for the G5 Powerbook then!
    • Re:Ah! (Score:4, Funny)

      by kilodelta (843627) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:13AM (#15568371) Homepage
      I have to wonder about RF shielding. After all, even 802.11 gear runs at 2.4GHz, that's enough to cook ones private parts after extended use of a laptop. And with processors going in the same frequency range you can bet they're radiating RF. Luckily I made the decision not to have kids, but to those who might, you may want to reconsider resting that laptop in your lap.

      Cooked gonads tend not to work so well.
    • Re:Ah! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Enrique1218 (603187) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:41AM (#15569151) Journal
      absolutely, all we have to do is keep it supplied with liquid helium at $24/gallon. We are mac users, we are use to these extra expenses.
      • by booch (4157)
        Does liquid helium really cost $24/gallon? If so, we might want to get ahead of the curve and see if we can run our cars on it.
  • I RTFA.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:15AM (#15568034) Journal
    "By comparison, 500 GHz is more than 250 times faster than today's cell phones, which typically operate at approximately 2 GHz, according to the organizations."


    I think that speaks for itself.
    • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:20AM (#15568061)
      Several cell phones just run at real time. So they really do run at 2.4 ghz for the signal processor, while the system itself is on another chip at a different speed.

      REmember even though it's running at 2.4 ghz it's extremely dedicated and doesn't produce a lot of heat.
      • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:26AM (#15568092)
        I think that's the point. Reading between the lines, this isn't about general-purpose CPU chips, this is about specialised signal processors. In other words, don't expect to be buying an Intel or AMD chip running at 30+GHz anytime soon.
    • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by NatasRevol (731260) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:21AM (#15568070) Journal
      But, but....it's 2.4Ghz!!! They're reeeaaally fast!!

      I can play Qbert on mine, so it must be fast!!
    • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      I didn't read the article, but people don't seem to be making a big deal out of the fact that they are comparing the frequency at which a cellphone transmits data to the clock speed of a processor.
      • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GundamFan (848341)
        Well it is all frequency of electomagnetic pulses... but you are right the comparison is mighty strange.

        It seems the linked article was writen (badly) for a non technical audiance by a non technical author... So why write about super cold and super fast processors?
      • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by julesh (229690)
        I initially thought that, but then realised that the article doesn't at any point describe what this chip actually does. So, I surmise that it isn't a general purpose processor (which would be a ridiculous leap forward: a processor that clocks in at around 200 times current-gen consumer systems?), but probably a digital signal processor of some kind. 500GHz might then be its sampling frequency, meaning that it could work with 250GHz signals. At this point, comparing its clock speed to the frequency of a
    • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ignipotentis (461249) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:31AM (#15568127)
      I can understand your concern. However, after IBM backs this up [ibm.com], it forces me to do more research (which, I haven't finsihed yet obviously).

    • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:4, Funny)

      by snarkh (118018) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:39AM (#15568176)

      Hah, that's nothing. My microwave runs at 100 Ghz.
      • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:52AM (#15568246) Homepage Journal
        Unless you custom built your microwave, it actually runs at 2.4ghz...

        However, this is Slashdot... Does your microwave also have a big spoiler (vent), and 30" rims (buttons)?
      • 10GHz Microwave? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:00AM (#15568289) Homepage Journal
        That's a pretty odd microwave then, since most of them operate at 2.45 GHz, which is chosen because of the way it causes liquid water molecules to vibrate. See this article [lsbu.ac.uk], particularly the graphs showing dielectric temperature as a function of frequency. It's pretty clear that a 10GHz microwave oven would be a lot less efficient at heating water than a conventional 2.45 GHz one, although I suppose you could choose a multiple of 2.45GHz and probably still have a functional product.

        Overall, unless your goal was to build a miniature microwave (a 21st century E-Z Bake Oven?), I don't know why you'd want to use 10GHz instead of 2.4Ghz ones. The tolerances of parts in the magnetron and waveguide would have to be much tighter, I think, and this would almost certainly cause it to be more expensive.
        • Re:10GHz Microwave? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ruie (30480)
          Overall, unless your goal was to build a miniature microwave (a 21st century E-Z Bake Oven?), I don't know why you'd want to use 10GHz instead of 2.4Ghz ones. The tolerances of parts in the magnetron and waveguide would have to be much tighter, I think, and this would almost certainly cause it to be more expensive.

          Yes, but the heating would be more even.

          • by Kadin2048 (468275)
            The heating would be more even potentially, but shallow. The other (obvious) thing I didn't think of in my earlier post was that as you increased the frequency, the waves would penetrate less far into the food, meaning that you'd have cold spots in the center. Maybe this would be useful for something (something that you'd want to cook the outside of but not the inside .. liquid-center cakes maybe?), but in general I think it would just be annoying.

            There are probably other molecules that you could heat by us
      • Re:I RTFA.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by frostilicus2 (889524)
        Pah! My flashlight runs at 750000 Ghz (7.5 x 10^14 Hz). Its portable, has a 12 hour battery life, lets me see in the dark AND sports a durable andonized aluminum casing.

        Beat that IBM.
    • "By comparison, 500 GHz is more than 250 times faster than today's cell phones, which typically operate at approximately 2 GHz, according to the organizations."

      And in other news, apples and oranges usually taste different.

      The only question about computer speed that is important is, "Is it fast enough?" Of course, "fast enough" may change over time, and anytime you come up with a faster processor, some company like Microsoft will succeed in loading it down with bloatware. But I've got a customer who runs h

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by kjart (941720) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:16AM (#15568038)

    ...above 500 GHz by cryogenically "freezing" the circuit to minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 Kelvins).

    How long before I can get a kit like that for my P4?

  • and that is to IMAGINE A BEOWULF CLUSTER!
    Oh, you thought I had something insightful to say? Nope ^_^
  • by Kiaradune (222032) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:20AM (#15568060)
    Suit has been filed against a well known business and a school for violations of Moore's law.
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by reset_button (903303) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:20AM (#15568062)
    It's interesting, but wouldn't it be better to just use two of these chips at room temperature, rather than spend time/money/space on cooling the chip to 4.5 Kelvins?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:22AM (#15568072)
    Is this enough for Vista?
  • by interiot (50685) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:25AM (#15568084) Homepage
    TFA wasn't clear... I assume this wasn't running a larger fully synchronized CPU with memory and multi-level cache at 500GHz, but is instead running a smaller number of transistors at that speed?
  • by the_humeister (922869) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:25AM (#15568085)
    Or have they just been fabricated to demonstrate that they can attain high GHz rates?
    • by daBass (56811) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:30AM (#15568539)
      You are right, sort of. This could be useful for some very specialized processors that are very simple but need to do these simple operations very fast.

      A CPU like the one we use now in PCs can't go much higher than 10GHz simply because, at light speed, an electron wouldn't have enough time to make it through the long circuit paths before the next clock cycle.
      • Actually they can't even do 1GHz at light speed. But that's why we have pipelining, and current generation have between 10-20 pipeline steps..

        Next gen with 20+ like the Pentium IV have however already flopped.

        In theory you could have a 100GHz Pentium V with 100 pipeline stages. The problem is really that it most likely wouldn't be faster than a 2GHz Pentium M.

        • Actually they can't even do 1GHz at light speed. But that's why we have pipelining, and current generation have between 10-20 pipeline steps..

          Not to mention that signals don't travel at c inside the chips. However, the signal path lengths can be decreased substantially by producing 3D integrated circuits. However, then heat dissipation becomes a real problem since there's more silicon for the heat to pass through before it gets to your heatsink. Of course this may not be a problem if your heatsink has a
      • at light speed, an electron wouldn't have enough time to make it through the long circuit paths before the next clock cycle.

        It doesn't need to go through the long circuit path...

        In fact, signals haven't gone through a whole path since (at the latest!) the 286. The processing is already divided into stages, and it only passes through one stage in each clock cycle. (Look up pipelining.)

        It would be theoretically possible to design a chip that operated at a lot higher clock speed just by making the stages short
  • by crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:25AM (#15568088) Homepage Journal
    Everybody knows you can't trust ghz ratings. I mean, a 3.2 ghz athlon is clearly a bit faster than the 3.2 ghz pentium. Right? Oh, wait, you said .5 TERAHERTZ?!?! Oh, yeah, then I'll take one of those please. And that big ass freezer, thanks.
  • by Odiumjunkie (926074) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:26AM (#15568096) Journal
    AMD today announced the launch of the Athlon XP 500000+. The chip has a "stock speed of around 3.0 GHz, but is named for it's IBM equivalent".
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:30AM (#15568120) Homepage Journal
    by cryogenically "freezing" the circuit to minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit
    Somewhere, the mirror-universe Ray Bradbury is stroking his goatee with anger.
  • by demongeek (977698) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:37AM (#15568165)
    Was it blazingly fast? Is this destined to be the new hot item this Christmas? Will IBM come under fire from companies like AMD and Intel?
  • Uberistor? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord of Hyphens (975895) <`lordofhyphens' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:37AM (#15568169) Homepage
    Hrm... a batch of transistors that'll relay at clock speeds of 350Ghz. Then they tossed on their P4 cooler and watched it superconduct. Why am I not surprised at 500Ghz? At 4.5K, it's clearly superconducting. And the phone comparison... I like EE Times, but that writer needs to be shot. The editor deserves a slap on the wrists for letting it in (unless they're referring to some strange property of phones). "For the first time, Georgia Tech and IBM have demonstrated that speeds of half a trillion cycles per second can be achieved in a commercial silicon-based technology, using large wafers and silicon-compatible low-cost manufacturing techniques,[and absurd cooling that allows us to leverage the properties of superconductivity]" (fixed). IBM: Design it Today, Figure out what the hell we're going to do with it 7 years from Tomorrow. (And yes, I'd get a microprocessor designed with these ubersistors).
  • Safety tip (Score:4, Funny)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:40AM (#15568180) Homepage Journal
    200mm wafers

    Do not place one of those "thin, mint wafers" on Mr. Creosote's tongue.

    You are welcome.
  • 1.2mm per cycle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bytesex (112972) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:40AM (#15568182) Homepage
    350 * 1024 * 1024 * 1024 (375 809 638 400) cycles per second divided by the distance light travels in a second (299 792 458 000 mm / s) is 1.2 mm. Just thought I'd throw that in.
  • by ghoul (157158) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:42AM (#15568192)
    Brings a whole new meaning to the engineers traditional sigh of relief
  • ...development on Duke Nukem Forever. Or make it compile a trifle faster.

  • computers in space (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pdjohe (575876)
    Since these temperatures only occurs naturally in space, why not build a super, big cluster of these things, hook them up to a satallite and launch it into orbit.
    • by thiophene (216836)
      Because cold due to vacuum is different than cold due to liquid He.
    • by Skinny Rav (181822) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:04AM (#15568311)
      Since these temperatures only occurs naturally in space, why not build a super, big cluster of these things, hook them up to a satallite and launch it into orbit.


      Maybe because heat dissipation in space is poor? I know you can do magic with water evaporation under such low pressure to dissipate heat, but how much water would you need to send up there to provide cooling for reasonable time?

      Cheers

      Raf
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:06AM (#15568334)
      Radiation is a big issue for computers in space. Shielding equipment is heavy (=expensive to get up there), and the smaller (and faster) CPU's ICs become, the more susceptible to radiation they become.

      There's a reason why NASA is trying their best to get their fingers on ancient CPUs.
    • Since these temperatures only occurs naturally in space, why not build a super, big cluster of these things, hook them up to a satallite and launch it into orbit.

      Because then your KVM cables would have to be really, really long.

      --Rob

  • Obsolete Units (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Silver Sloth (770927) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:54AM (#15568258)

    From TFA - my emphasis

    IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) and Georgia Tech (Atlanta) claimed that they have demonstrated the first silicon-based chip capable of operating at frequencies above 500 GHz by cryogenically "freezing" the circuit to minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 Kelvins).

    Is anyone in the scientific world still seriously using Fahrenheit? What happened to si. Ok, for old farts like me it's nice to have the weather in Fahrenheit because I know that 60 is a nice spring day, 70 is hot and 80, phew, what a scorcher, but if I'm doing science I would no more use Fahrenheit than I would measure distance in poles.

  • 500 Giggles (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sqreater (895148) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:57AM (#15568274)

    "The achievement is a major step in the evolution of computer semiconductor technology that could eventually lead to faster networks and more powerful electronics at lower prices, said Bernard Meyerson, vice president and chief technologist in I.B.M.'s systems and technology group. He said developments like this one typically found their way into commercial products in 12 to 24 months."

    I think I'll put off buying a new computer for a couple of years or so...

    NEWS ITEM: Computer industry collapses due to consumers putting off purchases in anticipation of 500 GHz computers coming real soon now.

  • by LlamaDragon (97577) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:13AM (#15568372) Journal
    OMGFramerates!! FRAME RATES!!!!!11!1!12@3#

    *ahem*

    Sorry about that, Pavlovian reaction...
  • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:21AM (#15568959)
    "a 500 GHz Silicon-germanium (SiGe) chip, operating at 4.5 Kelvins."

    Imagine how fast it would run if they got it down to 0 Kelvins!
  • by RWalz (798124) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:23AM (#15568978)
    I just wanted to point that out, I think some posters are thinking about it incorrectly: "The 500 GHz mark was the goal when Feng and UI colleagues received a $2.1 million, five-year grant for the project from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in October. In contrast, the transistors inside the central chip of a powerful personal computer run at around 50 or 100 GHz, Feng said. The fastest that such a chip runs as a package is currently around 3 GHz." http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2003/01/24/ fastest_transistor_made_at_ui/ [news-gazette.com] In addition, University of Illinois broke 600 Ghz last year. http://www.physorg.com/news3662.html [physorg.com] "The speeds quoted in this article are maximum rated *switching* speeds of a single transistor. Synchronous logic designs of the type found in microprocessors involve synchronous cells (known as flip-flops) and asynchronous gates providing boolean functions on the signals passing between flip-flops. The maximum rated frequency of any design is limited by the slowest path between flip-flops and this is what the clock signal will be set at. As the paths between the clocked flip-flops are typically anywhere between 2 and 10 logic cells deep and with each one comprising 10's of transistors (usually in complementary configuration to aid switching speed), the overall figure for an ASIC design such as a uProcessor would be at least 2-4 times slower than the maximum transistor switching speed (it's not quite cumulative, because as one transistor starts switching, the voltage at the at the `gate' of the next one has already started changing causing it to start conducting, and so on). I also have a suspicion that there would be other real-world constraints such as cross-talk (noise between transistors) and thermal problems. I'd hazard a guess that a production-quality chip would be somewhere in the region of a tenth the speeds quoted here! However, these new materials and structures still make for an impressive speed gain over traditional Silicon CMOS designs." (The speeds quoted in this article are maximum rated *switching* speeds of a single transistor. Synchronous logic designs of the type found in microprocessors involve synchronous cells (known as flip-flops) and asynchronous gates providing boolean functions on the signals passing between flip-flops. The maximum rated frequency of any design is limited by the slowest path between flip-flops and this is what the clock signal will be set at. As the paths between the clocked flip-flops are typically anywhere between 2 and 10 logic cells deep and with each one comprising 10's of transistors (usually in complementary configuration to aid switching speed), the overall figure for an ASIC design such as a uProcessor would be at least 2-4 times slower than the maximum transistor switching speed (it's not quite cumulative, because as one transistor starts switching, the voltage at the at the `gate' of the next one has already started changing causing it to start conducting, and so on). I also have a suspicion that there would be other real-world constraints such as cross-talk (noise between transistors) and thermal problems. I'd hazard a guess that a production-quality chip would be somewhere in the region of a tenth the speeds quoted here! However, these new materials and structures still make for an impressive speed gain over traditional Silicon CMOS designs." (http://www.physorg.com/news3662.html)
  • Miss a picture... (Score:3, Informative)

    by lcde (575627) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:52PM (#15571739) Homepage
    Good article but nothing beats a picture [dailytech.com] from This article [dailytech.com]

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