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HP

Nano-sized Microchips? HP Says So. 203

ImaLamer writes: "A C|Net News story is reporting that HP has announced they have made breakthroughs that 'help turn out powerful computers that fit on the head of a pin with room to spare.' Also in the article, that the patent announced Wednesday, will produce no two chips that are the same. 'Each one will be customized for a particular function,' says Stanley Williams, the chemist on the team. The work was done by himself, Phil Kuekes, a computer architect, and James Heath, a UCLA professor. The chips use nanowires and the chips are said to be even less than the size of bacterium. Sounds cool enough. The biggest part of the breakthrough isn't the chips themselves, but that HP plans to be able to 'fix' chips which come out with imperfections, thus saving money on an already cheap process."
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Nano-sized Microchips? HP Says So.

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  • Interesting story... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Uttles ( 324447 ) <[uttles] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:31PM (#2895765) Homepage Journal
    So much so that I posted it this morning, only from the Yahoo! site: HP Says Atom-Sized Computer Chips a Lot Closer [yahoo.com]

    The fact that they are going to be able to fix the chips is a big breakthrough, but the biggest thing here is the process for making the chips. They are breaking the chips into different functional areas, and this is what enables (indirectly) the capability to do "chip fixing."
    • Just a little record keeping...
      2002-01-24 14:44:32 HP Says Atom-Sized Computer Chips a Lot Closer (articles,news) (rejected)

      Oh well
    • Sorry I stole your story :(

      But I was trying to keep the intro light on the details. The idea of breaking the chips into different areas is really cool to me.

      Why aren't we doing this now? I know the we are doing this to some extent, but we keep developing faster chips... but are they getting smarter?
    • by caesar-auf-nihil ( 513828 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @02:33PM (#2896229)
      I'm not so sure that fixing the chips is a big breakthough, as it sounds like they're suggesting they'll get a lot more defects and not be able to mass produce chips. In fact, the comment that almost each chip will be different suggests a serious problem with their approach.

      Remember all the stink over the Pentium II (or was it III?) that had some computing errors in numbers past the 6 or 7th digit? Now if no two chips are the same, how are you going to guarentee that chip A runs a protocol correctly when chip B, designed for the same application, has all its chip-innards set up differently, such that certain logic gates work differently and give different results for the same protocol? Perhaps each chip will indeed be customizable, but if you're producing 1000s of chips per day, do you really want 1000 different chips if you've got orders for 950 in one application and 50 in another? If no chips are the same due to this technology, what a QC nightmare this would be. No one would by it because they could never guarentee that your PC is going to act the same as everyone else's.

      I don't know, the whole thing sounds quarter-baked, not even half-baked. My concern is that when these type of annoucements come out, it suggests that the company:
      A) Is so far ahead of everyone else they can afford to brag and advertise thier technological edge.
      B) Has developed something that's great for technological capablity PR, but is so impossible or impractical to put into practice that revealing its existance is designed to throw competitors off track. Companies tend to publish results when they can't patent it or if they think others are getting ready to patent it and they want to prevent others from getting exclusive rights to it.

      I'll admit there is the possiblity HP is onto something, but I think category B above is probably more appropriate here.
      • You're not using the correct frame of reference here. This is a completely new technology, an amazing acheivement. It will take another equally impressive breakthrough before it will be possible to produce these chips with zero defects. The thing is, with this process they produce the chips, they're all unique, then another process automatically customizes the chips. Therefore, it is in fact possible to mass produce these things.
        • I think (notice I say "I think") that I am using the correct frame of reference based on what was written in the article. Right now, you can make a normal chip with zero defects. If any current chip designs have a defect, then what happens is the circuit on the chip can't work properly, and its logic functions are basically garbage. For computer companies to make a profit, they currently have to make chips at almost 99%+ effeciency, so that they throw away very few chips per silicon wafer. Given the high cost to produce them, every single chip is highly valuable, and the higher the defect cost, the more espensive it is to produce those same chips. HP would go out of business real quick if they pursued this strategy for mass chip manufacture.

          What I'm unsure of, based on the article (and is why I say "I think...") is that this technology is really completely new. If its based on the next logical step (or even two steps ahead) on lithography, then it's not that new an idea, and their defects are actually due to the inability to produce circuits with lines smaller than 100 nm with precision. Not surprising, most other people have a hard time doing this at the moment when using lithography. Now if the technology is truly atomic, such that we're looking at molecular computing, then what they are proposing is indeed completely new technology, and it is an amazing achievement.

          That being said, any process that produces unique chips each time cannot guarentee than any one chip will work the same as the others, as the well defined architechture of logic and/or/nor gates needed to get reproducible CPU calculations has been randomized from chip to chip, and therefore, no chip will work the same as its brethren made via the same process which creates these new atomic sized chips/CPUs. At the scales they're talking about, I have a hard time believing they'll be able "customize" each chip to the desired configuration. Basically, they'll have to "fix" each chip after production, which means they'll have to map out each chip and find out what it looks like before they can customize it. That is a HUGE amount of work to do just to get 1 chip out the door and into a working PC or device.

          I could be very wrong - but based on what they're promoting in the article, I'm not so sure they're onto something which we can use now, or even 50 years from now.
          • For computer companies to make a profit, they currently have to make chips at almost 99%+ effeciency, so that they throw away very few chips per silicon wafer.

            I hate to nitpick, but you really should check your stats before spouting them off like that. A chip manufacturer making something like a P3/P4 or Athlon chip with those kind of yields would own the world by now. Nobody making big (by area) chips these days has yields anywhere near that high. Even 90% is doing good. They often range much lower than that, 80% and worse even, but because of the high price of the good ones that they sell, they still barely make a profit. The way the Intels and AMDs keep on going is by selling a lot of them, not by making much of a profit on each one. For DRAM memory, yields are often around 50%. So don't assume that they need to get 99+% yield to make a profit. There are a lot more variables in that equation that they can and do work with.

            Mac

          • The article states that the chips are cheap to make anyways.

            Please...
      • by dhovis ( 303725 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @04:22PM (#2896865)
        Stan Williams, one of the guys mentioned here, came to my department to give a talk about the work they were doing at HP about 2 years ago.

        What they are doing is really facinating, and it's not quite as simple as just re-programming the chip when they come off the line. The chips will continue to develop defects, even during service.

        The way they get around this is to design a fault tolerant processing scheme. When you drop the sizes down as much as these people are, you get a several order of magnitude increase in the number of transistors, so you can afford to have the chip do the same calculation, say 500 times in different sections of the chip. The chip itself can figure out what sections are bad, and stop using them on its own.

        HP actually built a full size computer where they designed some ASICs that computed using lookup tables (!). They had them fabed and asked the fab to send them the defective chips along with the good ones. They then mixed the good chips and bad chips together (I think it was like a 1/2 good/bad ratio) and hired a high school student to hook up the wiring. Now keep in mind that even on the "defective" chips, part of the chip still worked. It only takes 1 defect to spoil a traditional chip. On the whole, the components on the chips had about a 3% defect rate.

        The whole thing ran at a whopping 1MHz and may not have been wired up exactly to specifications, but it was "programmed" with a standard computer first to find the defects and route around them. Performance wise, it was on par with the fastest HP workstations of the day. (there's the MHz myth for you)

        So the idea here is to design chips that have so many circuits that you can afford to build in fault tolerance. What is more, you can afford to have the chips constantly checking themselves looking for new faults.

        In short, zero defect tolerence is not necessarily a good thing. One defect in one transistor can render a Pentium processor worthless. The smaller you make them, and the more transistors you add, the harder it will be to achieve defect free parts. Yields go down, price goes up.

        And if you don't believe me, they published an article in Science about the computer they built (it was called Teramac IIRC)

      • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @04:31PM (#2896923) Homepage Journal

        No one would by it because they could never guarentee that your PC is going to act the same as everyone else's.

        A valid concern, and certainly one that I would have.

        Upon further reflection, though, I thought of this analogy:

        The brains and nervous systems of any two human beings are absolutely different. Yet, you can program them (education) so that they can perform the same function (eg, produce consistently spelled words of a language.

        Of course, programming humans is more involved than programming silicon, but at least it suggests to me that different underlying physical architecture does not preclude having consistent functionality. [Yes, you can argue that the yield of properly functioning humans is not all that great, but, hey, there's hope.]

      • You are so far off.

        There is 'nanowires'. The breakthrough is that the chips will be 'fixed' because of nano-imperfections right after the creation process.

        You didn't read the article, or any others attached to this thread even.

        The reason all the chips are going to be different: they designed them that way. They will be different because different applications. Unlike current CPU's, which are general use.

        Please, go read the story and then post a bunch of garbage like a karma whore.
  • Yahoo has more information [yahoo.com], saying that they have "patented a process they said on Wednesday would eventually help turn out powerful computers which fit on the head of a pin with room to spare." It's nice to see that there's still some life left in the company.
  • by Da VinMan ( 7669 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:33PM (#2895793)
    I know this is all still a bit sci-fi, but if we could finally put together NanoBots.... it kinda boggles the imagination.

    It has applications in:
    -consumer electronics
    -medicine
    -military (covert, weapons, etc.)
    -industrial machinery
    -nano-tech - nano-bots that construct other nano-bots
    -ad infinitum...

    It makes me light headed just thinking about it. Must be all that vapor.

    ;+)
  • Since somewhere alnog the line, we hyave to connect these micro-computers to keyboard, mice, speakers, monitors... how do we make these interconnections? I wonder if efficiency is lost along the busses neccesary for these to work.
    • Your comments arnt totally true in every sense. Most embedded systems have none of the parts you listed above. And custom solution chips are what these are for anyways (atleast at the start)

      Later once the bottle necks of 'desktop' equepment such as keyboards monitors etc is solved, then these chips will start finding their way to the desktop.

      I dont have the URL handy, but i recal reading an article somewhere about scientists creating a nanoscale enzime that generates electricity in the same manor our bodys do, by breaking down chemicals (food), producing waste and energy.
      The research was going to making them provide enough energy specificly to power these nano scale parts with a small food supply.

      We are well on the way to being able to manipulate the universe in a way to construct devices on the same scale as life is built upon.
      I only hope these things can be realized before the end of my lifetime.
  • thanx from yer hp fans
  • by RC514 ( 546181 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:34PM (#2895804) Homepage
    All the advances in chip design and manufacturing make computing hardware a big player game. One thing I'd really like to see is a technology which enables hobbyists to create microchips on a small scale. There are a few open source hardware projects around, but when it comes to manufacturing, only high numbers can be produced at reasonable costs. This advancement, promising no two chips will be the same, sounds a lot like what I want.
  • Wow... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Rayonic ( 462789 )
    They keep on making those Vacuum Tubes smaller and smaller.
  • by Adrian Voinea ( 216087 ) <adrian@@@gds...ro> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:36PM (#2895817) Homepage Journal
    If you're interested in nanoscience generally, like I am, or in nano-sized microchips especially, you can find some cool info and news at the nanoscience.ch [nanoscience.ch] site.
  • This could be part of why they are cutting loose their PC division. It seems they've been doing a lot of pure research lately. I hope some of this comes to market soon (within the next 5-10 years) and they aren't just filing speculative patents.

    On the humorous side, maybe they can use this tech to start making the HP48gx again and overclock it to 1ghz =:-)
  • If they repair a chip and then try to sell it to you, do they have to tell you about the repair?
    • Because the repair is pre-sales. Besides, they might not even know the repair occurred if other technology repaired it automatically.

      At the end of the line, if the chip passes its test suite, why would they tell us anyway? It works...
    • It's not like they had a functional product and then repaired it, the idea is they pop out this chip and then have to go in and clean it up before it's ready for use. Sort of like at different parts of a car production line where the automated machines pop out the car and humans have to go touch it up and get it ready for the next phase. You could call that a repair but it really is just a "tweak."
  • by hndrcks ( 39873 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:38PM (#2895838) Homepage
    "Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of those?"

  • The article was interesting, but thin on details. How fast are these chips? Are they reliable enough to be CPU's? How durable are they - can I put them in clothing?

    Anyway, I'll be more jazzed about this development when they get closer to production.

    OK,
    - B

    • Re:Neat, but... (Score:2, Informative)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
      The article states that they could be woven into your clothes, yes.

      They currently are producing, in some way, these chips. At least enough to test them.

      I don't think though, that they will be used as "cpu's" like you maybe thinking. Think devices, medicine, etc.

      It would be cool if you had them controlling stuff like your hard drive, and other periph's.

      Add in a PCI card Cluster!
      • I imagine that for a general-purpose CPU, there would be issues with more important sections having errors... but this is still awesome technology. I wonder how you benchmark/rate chips that are unique? ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I want them in my brain. Quick what's 984*632-75?
  • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Don Negro ( 1069 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:40PM (#2895854)
    help turn out powerful computers that fit on the head of a pin with room to spare.

    So they've hired angels?

    I wonder what kind of deal they were able to cut with God.

    And all this time I thought Carly was making deals with the Devil...
    • either angels or MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS (they always seem to be looking for more powerful items)
    • So they've hired angels?

      No, they just bought all their old 386s on eBay. The heavenly host uses handheld computers exclusively nowadays.
  • Actually, to some extent that seems to be what Stanley Williams suggests. Has anyone got an idea about how these tiny guys are supposed to actually interact?
    Dr Heaths homepage [ucla.edu] suggests at attempts to construct "molecular based memories and molecular-based communications networks". Sounds slightly peculiar, but interesting enough in the light of what they claim to have accomplished so far!

    Reunite Gondwanaland!
    • Just about two minutes ago [exactly] I posted saying that a cluster could be cool.

      Add-in PCI card cluster! 5 PCI slots? 5 clusters! Although I can't find an ounce on the 'speed' of the chips, I imagine if they worked at the same rate of a 100 Mhz x86 we could have some fun.

      Your cell phone might kill your desktop. Pack in enough of them I guess.

      But aren't we kind of re-inventing the wheel if we used them to make desktop components? We don't need another CPU. But controlling things such as your hard drive or other components would be cool. Hell, put them in every device in your house. Cluster in your TV!
  • vaporware (Score:5, Funny)

    by stipe42 ( 305620 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:42PM (#2895868)
    Vaporware . . . chips so small they can be inhaled.

    stipe42
    www.pcwatch.com [pcwatch.com]
    • Re:vaporware (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GreyPoopon ( 411036 )
      Vaporware . . . chips so small they can be inhaled.

      I know this is intended to be funny, but when I read it, it actually frightened me instead. Can you imagine what would happen if this technology were used to manufacture destructive little nanobots that couldn't be seen, but could be inhaled? You think viruses and bacteria are bad? Wait until you see this. Even worse, they can be dynamically programmed from an external source via radio transmitter.

      Somebody pinch me and wake me up.

      • You think viruses and bacteria are bad?

        "I'm sorry I couldn't make it to class yesterday, Dr. Scratchensniff...I caught CIH from a friend of mine yesterday...
      • Re:vaporware (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @02:22PM (#2896146) Homepage
        Can you imagine what would happen if this technology were used to manufacture destructive little nanobots that couldn't be seen, but could be inhaled?

        Yes.

        Moreover, people with a much better imagination and command of language than I already imagined this:

        Neal Stephenson "The Diamond Age".
      • know this is intended to be funny, but when I read it, it actually frightened me instead. Can you imagine what would happen if this technology were used to manufacture destructive little nanobots that couldn't be seen, but could be inhaled?

        Even better are the nano bots coded to attack only a specific DNA pattern. You could release them into the air and the entire population would be safe except for the one guy you coded the bots to kill. Fun, eh?
        • It gets better still... someone will replace dna_strcmp() with dna_regex() and we'll have nanobots programmed to kill only certain racial groups. Then the shit will really hit the fan...
          • Interesting point, though I don't think there is enough diferentiation between the "races" for this to really be viable.

            But as long as we are working in the fantasy world, think about nanobots that alter DNA (instead of destroying) on those same "raical" lines. Imagine waking up one day and finding that you are no longer genetically the race you were when you went to bed. Talk about solving the whole discrimination issue overnight!
    • Kinda reminds me of mites in "The Diamond Age"... nowhere near that level yet, but hey... once the bus get rolling...
    • Berkeley profs were working on very small computer systems that could be used as environmental or medical sensors (or weapons). They can sense, compute, and communicate.
  • An HP Icon! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Gameshow Bob ( 31940 )
    Thank the lord!
  • you know... chips are pretty damn small already.
    wouldn't you be afraid of loosing it? if it's only the size of a bacterium?

    other wise. COOL!
  • Ok, let's say that they can make a REALLY small computer. How do we interface to it? Via a REALLY small keyboard? With a REALLY small monitor?



    I think this makes more sense if they have some kind of networking capability, and that they'll be able to form some sort of "sensor cluster", much like in the way Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky's Qeng-Ho's network of dust computers worked. Of course, there's still too much to work on for that.

    I hope HP begins work on some sort of nanoTCP/IP.

    • How about placing a few million of them on a micro chip and placing _that_ in your computer?
      It would require a breakthrough in parallel programming, but hey...
    • Hmm... I must have forgotten about the law that says there must be some sort of corrilation between the size of the chip in your pc vs. the size of the keyboard/monitor.

      Do you think that just because this chip is small, that means that everything it interfaces with must be just as small?
    • My physics is a bit rusty, but wouldn't microwaves just smash these nano computers? Or at least knock them about? If they're smaller than the amplitude of the radio wave, then there's no way for it to interpret the wave, right? So communication will have to rely on individual or small groups of electrons passed between these nano-computers.
    • Ahh yes... I remember sitting around the corporate mainframe wondering just how one would interface with those damn tiny mini computers. I mean, minurature card punch machines? I won't be able to see the holes!

      Seriously though, these things have a tendency to solve themselves. Look at the size of the keyboard compared to the the machines it was originally attached to -- now compare to the ones attached to PDAs. Not alot different (though much more flimsy).

      One way or another, I want a map in my watch so I never forget how to get where I'm going. I want another in my door to remind me to take my watch with me.
  • The smaller the wires, the more resistance they have. Therefore, they will run hotter. Granted, we won't have much voltage/amperage there, but I'd imaging that these nano-sized chips would have a major heat issue.
  • Moving beyond the moot, dosent this all remind you of the kitchen of the future stuff in the 50's or the films from ATT about the Transistor :)

    They say a BROAD patent, but actually its pretty specific. it says a "silicon substrate" geuss what no silicon no patent issues, NOW before you get started there are other materials that suit this on a nanoscale much better, some of the RE are better suited to this task, its not a world ender, BUT actually there may be prior art on this, a real good chance.

    Interesting is its not JUST HP but UCLA too.
    Now you know where all that public (sprinkled with private) funding goes to the companies that run this country.
  • It's amazing to see the rate in which new techology is anounced to when it is developed. If you look at the newest processors, like a 1.3ghz Duron, you see the copyright on it is in 1999. Thats three years ago that chip was put into production.

    Makes you kinda wonder what companies like HP, IBM, Intel, and AMD have in production right now that they haven't announced.
  • And I thought the keyboards on handhelds were almost unusable. Yikes.
  • Wow... seems like HP has capitalized on those hot new compression techniques announced recently [slashdot.org].

    Now if they can make these machines power themselves forver [slashdot.org]...

    :)

  • ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by raindog151 ( 157588 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @01:55PM (#2895969) Homepage
    From the HP Nano-chip(tm) manual :

    In order to make sure your HP Nano-chip(tm) will continue working, please AVOID the following :

    * Windy areas
    * Opening windows
    * Sneezing
    * Breathing
    * Movements of any sort
    * Using cooling fans

    By making sure you follow these simple guidelines, your HP Nano-chip(tm) will provide years of quality computing power!
    • Reminds me of the Happy Fun Ball from Saturday Night Live.

      * Do not touch Happy Fun Ball * If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, run and seek shelter. * Do not bounce Happy Fun Ball * ...
    • I have seen the future and it is just like the present, only longer. -- Kehlog Albran, "The Profit"

      Shouldn't that be shorter rather than longer? It starts later than the present, and ends at the same time...
  • So, hypothetically, since these are all custom made, we could string a bunch of them together to build a complete system much smaller than your average microchip?
    Only problem is you might loose your PC in the laundry or accidentally throw it out with your pocket lint... :-)
  • CNN reports as well. (Score:2, Informative)

    by jwachter ( 319790 )
    CNN is reporting the story too [cnn.com].

    Jonathan

  • now all I need is a super-titanium water-cooled nano case so I can play Quake on this thing at 150 fps.
  • by ruebarb ( 114845 ) <colorache&hotmail,com> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @02:03PM (#2896025)
    "the patent announced Wednesday, will produce no two chips that are the same. "Each one will be customized for a particular function"

    Translated: Our QC is SO BAD, we're not going to be able to make two that are exactly the same...we're looking at the M$ "It's not a bug, it's a feature" approach

    :)

    RB
  • Just a week or so ago [slashdot.org], Carly Fiorina was reported to have said that HP was getting out of the personal computer business. So which is it HP? Are you in the PC business or not? Or are these chips only going to go into high endm super-duper, big iron systems?
  • Seems to me that the general equation is:

    Smaller Chip = More Heat = Bigger Fans

    So, by that model:

    Nanometer Chip = Enough Heat to Barbeque Idado = A 9000 CFM Fan the Size of Utah

    And I thought the roar of my PCs was loud now.
    • Re:Of course... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by caesar-auf-nihil ( 513828 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @02:23PM (#2896151)
      Not so. As you get down to smaller scales, sometimes heat dissapation becomes easier as there are different methods of heat release than just fans and heat sink.
      Basicailly it depends on the structure of the chip. If its inorganic semiconductors, which have to push heat through a rigid crystalline structure, then they tend to hold onto their heat longer due to poor heat conductivity. Therefore, they tend to heat up and stay heated up, and it takes more effort to cool them.

      However, while no details were given, the tech probably won't be inorganic semiconductor based, and therefore could just release heat by the release of energy through the chemical bonds in the structure. You would get some heat, but some of that energy would get converted into moving electrons back and forth in each of the molecular bonds. In fact, its possible that they're relying up on the heat to get certain atoms to jump to higher energy state, thus turning a switch on or off, and when they rapidly cool back down, they activate or shut off the switch as appropriate.

      Then again, its very likely they haven't considered this, and the first time they hook it up and starting running computations there is a puff of smoke and the chip is now CO2 and ash.
    • Smaller = Less Heat
      Higher frequency = More Heat
      Higher voltage = More Heat

      Nanometer Chip = "Is this thing on?"
    • There is a nifty trick to reducing the heat in teeny circuits. It demands extra circuitry and is therefore not done in silicon, where extra transistors are still fairly expensive, but would probably be more feasible in this medium. The trick is called "reversible computing".

      Thermodynamics says that when a computation throws away a bit of information, there is a necessary minimum heat dissipation. In today's relatively large circuitry, that dissipated heat is lost in the noise of resistive heating along the silicon conductive paths. In smaller circuits, it will become the dominant source of waste heat. An example of "throwing away a bit" is when an AND gate accepts two bits and produces only one. If you can run your logic circuit backward in time and recompute the inputs from the outputs, it's reversible.

      Google has some links: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=reversible+co mputing [google.com] and there is an interesting project at MIT to design an entire reversible processor, called Pendulum [mit.edu].

      Not surprisingly, the reversible computing idea is well-liked among nanotechnology thinkers such as Ralph Merkle [zyvex.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here is the short version of why I think this is bull: packaging.
    Chips can be produced in parallel (many in 1 step per wafer), but their back end processing, and especially the packaging is a serial process. When you have a chip the size of a pinhead, you simply have to artificially make it bigger so that you can connect it to the outside world at a decent price.
  • by SpookComix ( 113948 ) <spookcomixNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @02:12PM (#2896093) Homepage Journal
    Reuters, January 24, 2002
    Microsoft sues HP over utilizing the prefix "Micro-" in defining their new chip technology:

    "We're afraid that the customer will make the assumption that Microsoft manufacturers these chips," states company CEO Steve Ballmer, aka "Monkey Boy". "If this technology ever makes it into intrusion detection systems, they'll effectively have 'microchip windows', and that's confusingly similar to our trademarked Microsoft Windows."

    The interviewer's rectum fell through his colon as he laughed.

    --SC

  • I want a beuwulf cluster of these and I will name it the staphylococci supercomputer. hehe!!!
  • The new patent was key to a play to commercialize nanochips by building factories to produce them, and lab experiments had proved the concept--although they used components much bigger than the nanowires a few atoms wide.

    How often do you see language like this? I understand that what he means is the new specific technique for practically applying a novel process. The language used however makes it look like patent law itself is responsible for things, rather than reseach and development. It reminds me of crap from the former Soviet Union where "sound party principles" were responsible for the great victory, bleh. I'd like to see reporters replace the word patent with something more direct and meaningful like, "research", "process", "design", even "idea". The reporter, I'm sure, was just following some stupid trend or stylebook and is unaware of the impact his words may have.

  • I heard the only drawback to these chips is they take a special Irish power supply. Here [slashdot.org] is some information as well as here. [jasker.com]
  • Ok, so we have nan chips. Now what?

    When are PC manufacturers gonna start looking at some of the other technologies that go into computers?

    What good is a chip that fits on a pin head if your video card is still 6 inches long? And what of the motherboard and RAM? Or drives? When do they start work on a micro drive? 100 gigs in the space of a sugar cube.

    I want to see more development in other parts before we advance our chips any further.
  • The biggest part of the breakthrough isn't the chips themselves, but that HP plans to be able to 'fix' chips which come out with imperfections, thus saving money on an already cheap process."

    No, the biggest part of the breakthrough is that a non-printer division of HP was able to announce its accomplishment before Fiorina could shut it down .

  • Doh! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Pyrosz ( 469177 )
    Damnit, I sneezed and blew my computer off the desk!
  • So, are we going to have cybernetic body soon? Electronic implant? A couple of things pop up in my mind, when I read the article:

    - Tiny localizers, like those described in The Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
    - Sumerian borgs, like those in Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. This is a scary thought, actually.
    - An interface to download new knowledge into my brain, like Trinity in The Matrix downloaded the chopper piloting program into her brain. Hey, I'll be the first one to implant this, if it's available.

  • 'no two chips that are the same. "Each one will be customized for a particular function"'

    This interprets as HP are making chips configured completely randomly, and when they come off the fab., they will test them to see if they have any particular function.

    "hey look this one can find prime factors"(?)

    This also explains how they will "fix" imperfect chips.

    "well it did for a bit but now it seems to be quoting shakespeare"
  • by GdoL ( 460833 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @02:37PM (#2896255) Homepage
    An Scientific American article sthat is valued lecture by K. Eric Drexler on "Machine-Phase Nanotechnology: A molecular nanotechnology pioneer predicts that the tiniest robots will revolutionize manufacturing and transform society". [sciam.com]

    Here you've a story [sciam.com] that is a sample of Sci.Am. coverege:

    "Purdue University physicist Albert Chang and colleagues have successfully linked two so-called quantum dots such that the tiny structures could conceivably serve as qubits-switches for quantum computers that can be on, off or in a combination of states."

    Also you can see more about nanotech here [sciam.com]

    Here [sciam.com] you can see a report on what we can learn from nature when building small.

    (When I proposed a similar story...in November it was rejected, because(??) it was basead on a Scientific American)
  • On a similar note, ABCNEWS.com is carrying an AP report [abcnews.com] about a new HP/UCLA patent on managing information flow in molecular systems. Here's a fun quote:
    "I believe that in 10 years we definitely will have hybrid molecular-silicon circuitry," Williams said. "Molecules will take over more of the computational tasks of the system and the silicon will become just the input-output device and the power supply."
  • Moments later, HP CEO Carly Fiorina announced that this technology, while superior to current current designs, is to be abandoned and sold to intel (At a loss.) during the upcoming Compaq merger.
  • Teramac (Score:2, Informative)

    by cweber ( 34166 )

    This project seems to be a follow on to the original Teramac [hp.com] project, in which they linked 864 faulty processors together to form a functional and powerful computer. See here [hp.com].

    The real breakthrough then was coping with the defects of the processors and making the whole thing function reliably. It can even detect new faults and route around them (literally). The authors of the paper, chief among them Phil Kuekes, stated back then that this was fundamental technology for eventual molecular computers, which by their very nature would be made of faulty parts.

    Now the molecular chips are 'real', and as anticipated, no two of these nanochips are the same. We'll have to rethink our assumptions about machines, QA and such, and take a clue from biology where everything is less than perfect, but can funtion perfectly nonetheless.

  • HP has announced that research and development is working on a "thumbnail" computer designed around their new nanochips. Among potential problems they are looking at overcoming is the design of a stylus with a point small enough to press the keys on the keyboard, which are expected to be only .001mm in size.Another issue the team will be addressing how the user can view the screen, which is rumored to be less than 1/4" across. Other issues expected present problems are the Cat 5 socket for the built in lan, and the speaker plug for the built in soundcard.
  • by WillWare ( 11935 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @11:15PM (#2899031) Homepage Journal
    Here [hp.com] is a press release, which says in part:
    Hewlett-Packard Company and UCLA today announced they have received a U.S. patent for technology that could make it possible to build very complex logic chips -- simply and inexpensively -- at the molecular scale...

    [In an earlier related experiment] researchers from the collaboration crossed wires the size of those used in today's computer chips and sandwiched them around a one-molecule thick layer of electrically switchable molecules called rotaxanes. Simple logic gates were then created electronically by downloading signals to molecules trapped between the crosswires...
    Once a basic grid has been assembled, programming could be used to implement a very complex logic design by electronically setting the appropriate configuration switches in the molecular-scale structure...
    The problem is that on a single large grid all the electrical signals would interfere with each other... The solution proposed by the patented invention is to cut the wires into smaller lengths by turning some "intersections" into insulators... The insulators are created by "cutter wires," which are chemically distinct from the others. A voltage difference between the cutter wire and the target wire creates the insulator.
    This addresses what I had seen as the major difficulty to building real circuits out of molecules -- it has gotten easy to build a large regular array of molecular switching elements all wired together in parallel, which is no more useful than a house whose lightswitches are all wired in parallel. I hadn't seen how they'd get the kind of irregular specific wiring that makes useful circuitry possible. This appears to be the answer, or close to the answer.

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann

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