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## Intel Claims Smallest, Fastest Transistor116

The Angry Clam writes: "Supposedly, Intel has really micronized transistors." Seems that "Intel engineers have designed and manufactured a handful of transistors that are only 20 nanometers, or 0.02 microns, in size." There's some of the usual discussion of how long Moore's Law can hold, but also a bit of discussion about what will replace silicon dioxide in a few years. Reader omnirealm points to a similar story at the New York Times as well.
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## Intel Claims Smallest, Fastest Transistor

• #### Re:Californians look at too much porn (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward
What's cool is that Rob has finally started logging ip addresses from which crap like this is coming, to do something with it.

I won't do much good on a dial-in ip, at first thought. But addressing 'matters' like these to isp's surely worked before and I wouldn't know why it wouldn't work now.

It would be a relief to finally see some action against this and lots of other abuse of slashdot. A joke is a joke, but you can actually go too far.

• #### Re:If only the Earth's temp were lower.... (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward
Silicon and carbon atoms are roughly the same size, and for that matter, so are the molecules SO2 and CO2. For this reason, even if you could attach CO2 to a semiconductor substrate, it would not help to make the transistor smaller.

What is apparently necessary is a different design for a transistor (or a gate). It turn out to be as revolutionary as the shift from vacuum tube to semiconductor transistor. It may be an application of modern techniques to an old and forgotten idea. Or perhaps Moore's Law will quietly ebb out...

What I'm personally rooting for is a change in the idea of computing. If people can build reasonably large quantum computers, maybe they can figure out something besides factoring large numbers that they are actually good at computing. FPGAs also sound both neat and promising.

Realistically, even if this is the last generation of transistor shrinkage, it'll still take years for this to hit the desktop. That is quite a long time for people to come out with ingenious new schemes. Well... cross your fingers, anyway.
• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward
Obligitory AMD plug -- have you tried it on a 1.4/266 Tbird?

• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:2)

by Anonymous Coward
What then?

Maybe in 100 years, computers will be smart enough to realize that 1.1+1.1+1.1+...+1.1 can be computed as 1.1*ULONG_MAX.

• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:2)

> Maybe in 100 years, computers will be smart
> enough to realize that 1.1+1.1+1.1+...+1.1
> can be computed as 1.1*ULONG_MAX.

\begin{pedant}
Unlikely, given that the value obtained by successive additions and the value obtained by multiplication differ substantially in the 11th decimal place. IEEE floating point numbers are not the same as the real line.
\end{pedant}
• #### Re:No kidding (Score:2)

"Intel engineers have designed and manufactured a handful of transistors that are only 20 nanometers, or 0.02 microns, in size."

Which Handful is that ? 5 ( as in the fingers on a hand) or enogh to fill a palm. For something this small you are talking several million.
• #### Re:Moore's law-type performace increases can conti (Score:1)

And remember, two cpus running in parellel enjor a greater performance boost (on some tasks) then a single processor with twice the speed of either of the dual processors.
That is highly unlikely to happen in practice. For almost all workloads you're happy to scale linearly with the number of processors, and often logarithmic scaling is considered ok. Only jobs with peculiar communication requirements (e.g. where not having to context switch between each communication gives an advantage) or cache requirements (the extra cache on the extra processors keeps a job in cache that otherwise would have hit main memory) exhibit better than linear scalability.
• #### Less power (Score:1)

After what I've been reading here lately, power-consuming seems to be just what California needs ;)

• #### Re:Moore's Law II (Score:2)

That's like saying if we made a law that all couches must be X size MAXIMUM, then somehow a 450lb man will seem less, um, bloated?

Face it. We're bloated right now. If processors never got any faster ever, we'd still be bloated.
• #### Re:The Change (Score:2)

Um. That's what they do now. There's a handful of layers in a modern CPU. It's not to the point where you're talking "3d Cube" .. but cross-layer communication IIRC is slow and troublesome to architect.
• #### Re:The Change (Score:2)

I think he was implying that it would be squared each time instead of doubled. Ie:

2^2 = 4
4^2 = 16
16^2 = 256

.. and so on.
• #### Re:Obligatory AI quote (Score:2)

"that doesn't have some silly quote about what kind of AI feature it will enable."

Right on the mark. We'll hate it anyway (anybody want a dancing paperclip? "The new Pentium V chip will be fast enough for the a line-dancing and juggling paperclip." It's still a lousy annoying paperclip.

AI requires more than just fast transistors and 3D graphics.

And all stock people should remember why the big crash happened back in the 80s: Yes: Computer trading and all these automatic trading programs suddenly shouting 'sell sell' in chorus. Let's all not learn from the past and do that again, that was fun (irony).

• #### Handful (Score:1)

Wow! A handfull of these transistors really is an awful lot of transistors!
• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:1)

immaterial to my point
[Saint Stephen]
• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:1)

they still have to communicate with one another
[Saint Stephen]
• #### Re:Other limits will stop you before Plank time (Score:1)

I knew I was spouting utter nonsense, but you seem to be amplifying what I seem to be noticed / worried about, that we may hit these sci-fi "limits of the universe" *way* soon than way-way-way-way in the future at the rate we're going. We're in the early part of the hockey stick WRT exponential growth of computing power. The way things are going, by the time your children are old people we'd have to be GOD-LIKE if computers double every couple years. That's the "wow" thing -- how different things must be just a bit further out on the hockey stick.
[Saint Stephen]
• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:2)

Both you, and the fellow who mentioned that I could just multiply 1.1*ULONG_MAX, are in different ways pointing out that this particular problem is really O(1). I'm not current on the quantum computing literature, but it sounds like quantum computing makes the further bold claim that *any and all* problems that have ever been or ever will be are theoretically O(1).

Let's get from here to there.

First, why do we have to be stuck with stupid binary after all these years? Surely we can make the "wires" sensitive enough to recognize more than two electrical states. Lots more computing power in the same "physical space."

Back at the turn of the century Goethe showed that non-trivial systems are not automatic, which ultimately is why we futz around with non-perfectly optimizing compilers that can't recognize that this problem is a single multiplication. A colleague was telling me about NP-completness, and how with the lambda calculus (don't know much about it) we can verify completeness of a system (but what about consistency)? In other words, you can generate every possible truth, but you can't prove it doesn't generate falsehoods. Sounds like the problem you'd have with quantum computing: you'd still have to be able to recognize the "correct" result from all possible correct and incorrect results in the answer set.

Flame on!
[Saint Stephen]
• #### Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:4)

on Saturday June 09, 2001 @07:14PM (#163357) Homepage Journal
Here's some pure bogusness, but what do you think:
I wrote a C++ program which initializes a double to 1.1; then adds 1.1 to it 4 billion times (ULONG_MAX).

On my PIII 500 mhz laptop (circa 1998-99) sometime, this program runs in 30 seconds.

On my new P4 1.7 ghz, it runs in 12 seconds.

I didn't check, but I think Plank time is about 10-47 seconds. Assuming the time it takes to execute one of these 4 billion steps, and if it continues to cut in half every three years, we'll hit planck time in about 100 years.

In other words, there is a fundamental limit on how quickly we can know one single fact (planck time), and our children will hit that by the end of their lifetimes.

What then?
[Saint Stephen]
• #### CPU Power can allow a semi-AI (Score:1)

I would think that given enough horsepower, we should be able to brute force compute all the possible solutions for a problem. Add to that a little statistical math and you might possibly be able to build a minimal AI that could help with some decisions.

So I guess what we need is a massive online peer-to-peer statistical repository. That way, one system could "learn" from others.

--
• #### Re:The Change (Score:1)

Nice of you to take my rather mean-spirited criticism in such a good-natured way. :-)
--
• #### Re:The Change (Score:2)

Most people can't make out any detail smaller than a centimeter.

By "people" do you mean "blind people feeling things with their feet"?

A centimeter is 0.4 inches. I don't know about most people, but I can sure see things smaller than that.
--
• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:2)

This will be important only so long as uniprocessor speeds are relevant. If we move to more parallelism (or, of course, quantum computing), this be no more relevant than a limit based on how quickly people can shift the beads of an abacus.
--
• #### hey! (Score:1)

Didn't that happen last thursday?

• #### Re:Microsoft + Intel conspiracy (Score:2)

Bloatware providers (those that keep Intel & AMD in business)
www.microsoft.com
www.kde.org
www.gnome.org
www.xfree86.org
www.trolltech.com
www.gtk.org
www.openoffice.org

You see, it's not just MS that spews bloatware. Its simply that while in the UNIX market, different organizations spew bloatware, while in Windows-land, all bloatware spewing is efficiently consolidated into one company.
• #### Re:Uses in DNA super computers? (Score:2)

Anyone want to comment on the validity of his verbiosity? The first paragraph seems okay from a vocabulary point of view, but no way in hell I can figure out if the rest of it is even true, much less if it is correct.
• #### Re:this is just a middle step. (Score:2)

Aye. Again with the bus-speed Nazis. As long as you have a fat cache and a good amount of bus-speed, there are lots of apps that are still CPU bound. Consider, for example, floating point apps that perform better on an Athlon than on a P4, even though the P4 has 3.2GB/sec of bandwidth. True, bus-speeds are important, but so too are processor speeds.
• #### Re:Problems with 20 GHz processors (Score:3)

on Sunday June 10, 2001 @07:13AM (#163369)
True, the bus does become an issue here. However, since cache fills tend to be large (32-64 bytes) it should be possible to have extremely wide busses (like the dual 256bit busses on Alpha workstations) to compensate for a lower clock speed. Also, 20GHz busses won't come around until processors reach 100GHz or so (which is still a bit away) since 1/5 the processor speed speeds to be a fairly regular bus speed. Of course, as many tricks as you put in there, the inherent problem remains, just gets postponed somewhat.
• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:1)

/* some test code */
if (i == 0)
• #### Re:Another Limit: Planck Time (Score:1)

First off, please neglect my previous post... hit the wrong button by accident.

> C++ is not a very efficient language

Well, this little program:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <limits.h>

const double a = 1.1;

int main()
{
double d = a;
unsigned long i;
for (i = 0; i < ULONG_MAX; i++)
{
d += a;
}
printf("%lf\n", d);
return 0;
}

Compiled into this:

.version "01.01"
gcc2_compiled.:
.globl a
.section .rodata
.align 8
.type a,@object
.size a,8
a:
.long 0x9999999a,0x3ff19999
.LC1:
.string "%lf\n"
.align 8
.LC0:
.long 0x9999999a,0x3ff19999
.align 8
.LC16:
.long 0x99999999,0x40319999
.text
.align 16
.globl main
.type main,@function
main:
pushl %ebp
movl %esp, %ebp
pushl %eax
fldl .LC0
fldl .LC16
pushl %eax
movl 15, %eax .p2align 4,,7 .L36: fadd %st(1), %st addl30, %eax
cmpl $-2, %eax fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st fadd %st(1), %st jbe .L36 fstp %st(1) subl$12, %esp
fstpl (%esp)
• #### Re:The Change (Score:1)

Most people can't make out any detail smaller than a centimeter

Haha! Heehee. Sorry. Do you know what a centimeter is? My index fingernail is about a centimeter wide. On my monitor, the word DUCK is about a centimeter wide. I am 186 centimeters tall. The civilized world (read: not afraid to make changes to improve efficiency) uses the metric system now, so I suggest you learn it :)

Then again, I still tell everyone that I'm 6'1" and a bit..

• #### Recent slashdot story.. (Score:3)

on Saturday June 09, 2001 @06:36PM (#163427)
A recent Slashdot story [slashdot.org] covers the posabilities of .01nm transistors and how there currently is a theoreticle limit with our current process of .002nm
• #### Re:Moore's law-type performace increases can conti (Score:1)

Not to mention Intel's "Jackson" tech. It seems to me that SMT will greatly reduce the inefficiency of our current uProcessors. If it is backed up by a properly powerful core, that is (one where there is almost always a free int/fp pipe doing nothing, as MUST be the case w/ the athlon, since it is 3 int and 3 fp and manages an IPC of less than 2)
• #### Obligatory AI quote (Score:5)

on Saturday June 09, 2001 @07:19PM (#163429)
"You log on in the morning and (the computer) gives you two or three options: 'Have you thought about doing one of these things? I've done the calculations for you," Marcyk said.

Just once, I'd like to read an article about a new microprocessor technology that doesn't have some silly quote about what kind of AI feature it will enable.

For decades, hardware has been proving exponentially. For decades, they've been predictiong that the new features will magically enable intelligent software.

All we've got to show for it so far is Clippy the paper clip. A mere 10X speedup won't make Clippy any less annoying.

Hint for futuristic article editors: the human brain has a hardware and software architecture that has absolutely nothing in common with that of an electronic computer.

• #### Re:Obligatory AI quote (Score:2)

A mere 10X speedup won't make Clippy any less annoying.

I don't know, anything that helps me dismiss the damn thing a couple milliseconds faster is forward progress as far as I'm concerned...

• #### just computers buying and selling (Score:1)

So, now we got megacorps who are only interested about pleasing their shareholders. And when shareholders are intelligent AIs supporting all the causes wich make most profit? Making decisions and transactions in seconds, calculating markets reactions using chaos theories and improving them, fastest computers playing ball over slower ones.. Who's going to win?

Surely not us consumers and workers. Even now traditional 8 hour workdays are routinely exceeded, using coffeine, pills and stimulating experiences and working conditions to keep workers healthy. Good health is defined by new standards every year so that most productive units would look most healthy. "Healthy people smile a lot, their days are filled with varying tasks and refreshing experiences." and so on..

• #### Squinting to post this (Score:1)

Most people can't make out any detail smaller than a centimeter.
So on his 15" monitor, he's browsing at 23x41?
• #### Re:Moore's law-type performace increases can conti (Score:1)

And remember, two cpus running in parellel enjor a greater performance boost (on some tasks) then a single processor with twice the speed of either of the dual processors.

I think you have it backwards. two cpus almost never run at twice the speed of one. Usually, it's good for an extra 50-70 percent speed.

• #### Re:Moore's law-type performace increases can conti (Score:1)

Name one.

System performance is going to be lower on the dual proc version just from multiproc overhead.

• #### Like I've Always Said (Score:1)

Size Does Matter>
And as the growing bloat^H^H^H^H^Hsoftware industry has proven
It won't do nayone any good if you don't know what to do with it.
• #### No matter how fast they make chips... (Score:2)

....there's always MS windows to slow them down to reasonable speeds!
• #### Uses in DNA super computers? (Score:2)

DNA is trivially custom-synthesized on solid supports. You rig chromophores or fluorophores to form Watson-Crick dimers instead of ATCG and roll rigid chromophore configuration and custom ordering any way you want. Bridge the base pairs with hydrogen bonding, dipole alignment, hydrophobic effects... be a chemist. We already have evidence of anomalous electronic conductivity in ordinary DNA (depends on base composition, which is a veeeery good sign). Want longer molecules? DNA-ligase and whatever. Let the enzymes do the fine work. After you get your Nobel Prize you want to manufacture, and you DON'T do it solid phase. You do it PCR with custom (patentable) templating. I bet you bust the conventional and closely held PCR application patents, too. GROW THE SUPERCONDUCTORS in bugs! Spinoff of fluorescent DNA and RNA probes for genome sequencing and clinical diagnostics ane therpaeutics - re photodynamic therapy targeted to oncogenes (especially gene hyper-repeat sequences).

Why use crappy phosphate-deoxyribose alt-copolyester? Peptide nucleic acids are vastly more robust and give you optional chiral centers for more goodies, like non-linear optical devices.

Hell, make a PNA 17-25 mer cocktail complimentary to a few critical HIV gene sequences and cure that, too, by knockout strategy (the Flavr-Savr HIV therapy). PNAs are uncharged and readily permeate cell membranes, they are totally untouched by nucleases and other catabolisms, and they are cheap to make. Turn off HIV RNA, turn off disease process progression. Boom. None of this downstream small molecule enzyme inhibitor bullshit that makes so much money for the pharm workers.

Original proposal is an interesting problem, and rather a small proportion of the population is up to it. When I started out in the business some 30 years ago, the process of discovery and original proposal awed me. It still does, and my track record has been exemplary. Perhaps the best answer is that you must read everything and be prepared for things to bump around in your head.

Example: My first original research proposal was to synthesize an obscure polycyclic alkaloid (in 32 steps! Silly synthesis is the refuge of a scoundrel) An ocean of blood flowed, and all of it was mine save for one redeeming skeletal inversion which was deemed "adequate." The next year, for my second original proposal, I proposed synthesizing C2 in cryogenic matrix and gas phase. C2 is hot stuff (literally) in flames and comet tails (Schwan lines), and its electronic structure was uncomputable at the time. When you warm the matrix fragments recombine to give acetylene diethers - which had not been synthesized at that time. The diethers dimerize to a squaric acid precursor, which was hot stuff re squarylium dyes for photoconductors. The tar from the reaction was worth at least ten times the cost of starting materials.

Know everything, and see where stuff rubs.

Almost any ten-carbon lump turns into adamantane in aluminum chloride/bromide slush. We can do better (though not cheaper) in ionic solvents like N-methl-N-(n-butyl)imidazolium tetrachloroaluminate with up to another added mole of AlCl3. The media support multiple carbocationic rearrangeents as a benign environment. What happens if you put micronized graphite into the slush and bubble in isobuytlene? Will you edge alkylate and solublize, or make 1-D tert-butylated diamond plates, or will something else happen? Look at all the applications of graphite fluoride and graphite intercalcates, as in high energy density battery systems and high number density low bulk mass hydrogen storage modalities.

Sargeson trapped Co(en)3(3+) as the inspired sepulchrate (formaldehyde plus ammonia), and then the brilliant sarcophogate (formaldehyde plus nitromethane; look down the triangular face of the coordination octahedron). Stop being an inorganiker and start being an organiker. That last gives you "para" nitro groups, which give you amines, which give you redox nylon (and azo linkages; polyisocyanates, polyurethanes, epoxies, acrylamides, and...) Nitrogen chemistry is incredibly rich - conjugated azo linkages, fluorescent heterocycles, stable free radicals, extrusion and caged radical recombination... As Co(en)3(3+) is trivially optically resolved, you also have potential non-linear optical films switchable through redox change. (Information storage, chemical transistors, sensors, clinical diagnostics, electrochromic windows...) It goes on and on... a whole lifetime of research. Nobody has diddled with it.

Look up the synthesis and reactions of of hydroxlyamine-O-sulfonic acid in Volume 1 (!) of Fieser and Fieser. Look at the mysteries of ammonia - inversion, nucleophilicity. Look at the Alpha Effect re hydrazine, hydroxylamine, and hydrogen peroxide. Look at Bredt's rule and all the interesting things it does at bridgeheads. Now, make it all rub against itself: Start with 1,4,7-triazacyclononane, which is easy enough though sloppy to make in bulk. Gently nitrosate it. The nitroso group goes on the first amine, then the adjacent amine (pre-organized to attack re Cram) attacks at the nitroso nitrogen to give you the hydroxylamine. Do the usual hydroxylamine-O-sulfonic acid synthesis and you tether the original nitroso nitrogen to the third amine with the original nitroso's oxygen as the leaving group. What have you got? You have four bridgehead nitrogens rigidly held, none of which can invert. The apical nitrogen is tethered only to other aliphatic nitrogens - which has never been done. It cannot invert and... for all that, it may have no nucleophilicity whatsoever because the Alpha Effect is euchered out by geometry and inductive electron withdrawal is mammoth. You could do it in undergrad lab.

I once watched a bunch of engineers with a very big budget try to excimer laser drill parallel or serial hundreds of 5 micron holes in PMMA intrastromal corneal implants (without the holes to move oxygen from outside and nutrients from inside the cornea dies and sloughs, which is tough on the rabbits). Buncha maroons. 5 microns is a magic number to an organiker, and I won't insult your intelligence with the trivial solution. The next Tuesday I delivered a foot-long bar of oriented two-phase PMMA which was cut and polished to spec, had its holes revealed, and got me into incredible hot water since my employer did not give shit one about the product but was really interested in the long term money budgeted by its parent company.

Take two cyclopentane rings (Framework Molecular Models do this nicely). Put 5 all-cis (vs the ring not olefin configuration, which need only be consistent) alkenes on one cylcopentane. Cap with the other. Now, twist slightly and watch the pi-oribtals. Is that a clever way to make dodecahedrane, or what? The alkenes came from alkynes. The alkynes were assembled with Schrock alkyne metathesis catalyst from the nitriles. Strain being what it is, you might want to have diacetylene linkages (copper-mediated oxidative coupling) and go for a bigger hydrocarbon bubble. Start with all-cis 1,3,5-cyclohexane and trace the diacetylene evolution (no strain here!) Consider 1,3,5-trans-2,4,6 all cis-substituted cyclohexane). Voila! You grow 1-D diamond (note the ring conformation and the special name given to that diamond structural variant).

I could go on for megabytes. All you need do is read the library, hold it all in your head, and wonder "what if..." where stuff rubs together. This is the first (easy) kind of genius. The second (hard) kind of genius is to see it all ab initio. I don't have a handle on that one.

• #### Moore's law-type performace increases can continue (Score:2)

While we may not be able to truly follow Moore's law (cpu speeds double every 18 months) with silicon dioxide cpus, the fact that silicon-based processors are contually getting smaller, cheaper, and drawing less power suggests that when we finally "hit the wall" in terms of silicon cpu performance, it will be practical in terms of space, cost, and power to increase processing power simply by using multiple CPUs. There is no basic, fundamental reason that a motherboard couldn't be released with support for, say, 5 Pentium X processors running at 15 gigahertz, or whatever Intel will have on the market in 2007. And remember, two cpus running in parellel enjor a greater performance boost (on some tasks) then a single processor with twice the speed of either of the dual processors. While the speed of processors may slow its increase, I think we'll find ourselves simple using more processors in each computer, so your PC will still be obsolete within minutes after purchase :-).

• #### this is just a middle step. (Score:2)

I believe IBM is working on nanotechnology, they are developing tubes which are only a few atoms wide and should be out in 10 years. Massive reduction in power needs, and huge benefits in speeds are possible with this. The physically limits of silicon will be reached by that time, and I'm sure there will be many attempts like this to stretch out the technology as long as possible. Quite frankley, the processors may be reaching max speeds, but our computer systems aren't and the processor war is just hype. They need to be redeveloped to allow for higher FSB speeds which is currently impossible with the physical size of motherboards, allow for higher on board bandwidth. Adding 4 100Mhz channels isn't a step in the right direction as with the Pentium 4, its just a work around, not really getting too much faster. I say work on fixing and changing the physical layout of computer parts so speeds can be improved and wait for nanotechology to get here, it won't take too long. Intel's yields at current processes which are much larger than 0.02nm are poor at best, its just inefficient to reduce the size too much.

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