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IBM

Cascading Molecules Drive IBM's Smallest Computer 226

Benoit Fries writes "EE Times reports that IBM researchers have created a simple computation engine that's more than 250,000 times smaller than the most advanced silicon circuitry. Called the world's smallest computer, the system relies on a 'molecular cascade' that pushes a handful of carbon monoxide molecules across a copper surface to perform digital logic functions. 'Even if CMOS density follows Moore's Law for 40 more years, molecular cascades are still going to be smaller,' they said."
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Cascading Molecules Drive IBM's Smallest Computer

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  • by Dark Coder ( 66759 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:27PM (#4526630)
    I think IBM is going off the wrong direction in tackling Moore's Law.

    We should be attempting massive parallelism instead of packing more logic per area.

    Isn't that how our brain works?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How bout this...do both. Smaller computers can only be a good thing
    • by joto ( 134244 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:35PM (#4526673)
      And exactly how will you achieve massive parallelism without packing more logic per area? Making computers as big as houses again is not the answer.
      • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:54PM (#4526770)
        Yes but it would make me feel important. God how I loved room fulls of racks with lights and tapes and switches. I could stroll through my domain and feel like a king.

        Now I have a tiny cube with a PC connected by ethernet to a tiny server no bigger than a chopping cart. AND we still don't get any more done than we did back in the day.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          yeah we do now we get quake on machines instead of nethack
        • I agree. Computers haven't been the same since they got rid of the blinking lights. I can live without the reels of tape, but without the blinking lights, how can I tell that anything is happening?

          lizzardo
        • Yes but it would make me feel important. God how I loved room fulls of racks with lights and tapes and switches. I could stroll through my domain and feel like a king.

          Now I have a tiny cube with a PC connected by ethernet to a tiny server no bigger than a chopping cart. AND we still don't get any more done than we did back in the day.


          He has a point.

          An excercise: Make a graph of average computer size versus average computer nerd's salary. Notice that they both spiral ever-downwards? Maybe the problem is that, as computers get small, the Boss thinks they're simple and won't pay people as much to fix them. Maybe if computers got really huge again, we could scare our employers with some crazy Scotty-talk and demand more money for maintaining the beasts.

          Hey, it could happen...
    • by shren ( 134692 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:22PM (#4526901) Homepage Journal

      You have to learn entirely different programming methods to program algorithms to run in parallel. Managing memory and cache access between multiple processors is a pain in the ass on the hardware side. That's what makes mobos for multiple processors more expensive. Plus, some tasks are just not well-suited to scaling across multiple processors at all.

      In short, I'd rather have a one processor machine over a two or more processor machine if the one processor machine gives sufficient speed for a reasonable price.

      • they're not discussing the equivalent of a microship in the article, they're discussing the atomic equivalent of a logic gate -- today's processor have billions that are hundreds of thousands of times larger. can you imagine a single processor's worth of those atoms working as a single chip. i bet the Q3 benchmarks would run great on that.
      • No, it is not overrated at all. The problem lies in the non-wide usage of languages like Concurrent C that are build from the ground up to support parallelisation.

        A compiler should be able to find all memory accesses that are parallel and provide the appropriate locks around that memory. I don't have the time to prove it mathematically, but here is the idea:

        Let's say that memory address X is to be accessed from two or more threads.

        int x; //accessed by two or more threads //access to global x
        void access_x()
        {
        x = 5;
        } //indirect access to global x
        void indirect_access_x()
        {
        access_x();
        } //thread1
        void foo1()
        {
        access_x();
        } //thread2
        void foo2()
        {
        indirect_access_x();
        } //main
        int main()
        {
        begin_thread(foo1);
        begin_thread(foo2);
        }

        What stops a compiler from understanding that both threads access the memory location 'x' ? all it needs to know is where a thread starts. Then it could certainly built a tree internally for variable access.

        Even in cases that you have pointers and parameters, the multithreaded access can still be caught by the compiler:

        int x; //multithreaded access

        int *p = //indirect access to multithreaded 'x' //this should be caught from the compiler.
        void pointer_access()
        {
        *p = x;
        }

        • A compiler should be able to find all memory accesses that are parallel and provide the appropriate locks around that memory.

          Yes, it should be able to. Whether it should do is a matter of taste. Paralell programming is still hard, and this doesn't make it significantly easier. It still doesn't tell you how to avoid deadlocks, how to structure your program for reasonable performance (too many locks, and you could just as well have a single-threaded program), how to make transactions (locking every memory access to each variable is not enough, sometimes you want to guarantee that a sequence of accesses is serialized), how to avoid starvation of resources, how to prove your algorithm correct (debuggers are more or less useless in multithreaded programs), how to design the algorithm in the first place, how the design of the interconnections between the processors should be and what this means for performance in the program, and of course the standard issues of priority inversion, cache coherency, thread cancellation, etc...

          What stops a compiler from understanding that both threads access the memory location 'x' ?

          In C, it's pointer arithmetic. In other languages, the complexity of global analysis (this can be fixed).

      • Stop thinking in terms of single applications. All machines (SMP and Uni) run LOTS of processes. More CPU's means more things can run simultaneously.

        BTW, even for single applications, multi-threading is tricky, but not THAT hard. Any second year CompSci student can do that.
    • this [crystalinks.com] is an interesting article that partially deals with how the brain works in a manner similar to what you suggest. It's way out there but it's an interesting angle, at least.
    • For all I know IBM may have people working on massive parallelism--but small and efficient is good whether we get good at parallelism or not. At the very least you're going to want small (and energy efficient) hardware to put together that mondo Beowulf cluster, aren't you?
  • Pfft.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:27PM (#4526631)
    'Even if CMOS density follows Moore's Law for 40 more years, molecular cascades are still going to be smaller'

    Pfft - if I had a nickel for every time I heard that...
    • Re:Pfft.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ezubaric ( 464724 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:17PM (#4526873) Homepage
      > Pfft - if I had a nickel for every time I heard that...

      Gordon Moore (of Intel) does ...

    • Also, their math doesn't make sense.

      They say it's 250,000 times smaller than current tech, then they say it's better than current tech plus 40 years of Moore's Law.

      Moore's Law states a doubling period of 18 months, or 1.5 years. This gives 26.666... doubling periods for 40 years. So, "if CMOS density follows Moore's Law for 40 more years", it will be 2 ^ 26.666 times smaller, which is in the neighborhood of 106.5 MILLION... that's more than 425 times smaller than "250,000 times smaller".

      To reach 250,000 times smaller, under Moore's Law, 27 years would be more than enough.
  • by m.lemur ( 618095 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:28PM (#4526635)
    Counter Strike for mice.
  • by Drunken Coward ( 574991 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:28PM (#4526640)
    Carbon monoxide? Carcinogenic hard drives! I was worried about my computer being too safe.
  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:28PM (#4526645) Homepage Journal
    So if the power goes out, half the city asphixiates, right? :-)
    • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joto ( 134244 )
      Well, only if your city is about the size of something you can only see in a microscope, and the computer is really large and complex, and you somehow manages to get the CO-molecules off the copper plate by cutting the power.
  • by bravehamster ( 44836 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:28PM (#4526647) Homepage Journal
    This thing is useless to me until I know how FPS's it can get in Q3A. Or at least tell me how many LoC's* it can alphabetize, give me something! Your size comparisons are meaningless to me.


    *LoC == Standard metric unit of information (Library of Congress). Size of unit varies from year to year.

    • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:13PM (#4526855) Homepage
      Your size comparisons are meaningless to me.
      *LoC == Standard metric unit of information (Library of Congress). Size of unit varies from year to year.


      Exactly! did you also notice...

      so small that 190 billion could fit atop a standard pencil-top eraser 7mm (about 1/4-inch) in diameter.

      pencil-top eraser?!? What the hell kind of unit is that? Everyone knows that the standard units of area are football fields, US states, and obscure counties! I want to know how many of these things would would fit in one Azerbaijan! [cia.gov]

      -
    • LoCs are annoying for the same reason as SpecInt... the aforementioned changing from year to year. You look at marketing literature for a 24 processor SGI Challenge XL and it's in, say, SpecInt94, and then you look at a 8 processor Xeon or something and it's SpecInt98 or whatever... For chrissake pick some reasonable unit.
  • Computing model (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fleppir ( 563959 ) <arnicNO@SPAMhi.is> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:29PM (#4526650) Homepage Journal
    Niiice. This means we don't have to learn new calculus to program assembly and STILL experience the computing power of single atoms. Good. My head hurts when thinking about sets AND super-sets at the same time (read, quantum computing)
    • Re:Computing model (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wmspringer ( 569211 )
      I dunno..they may be down to computing with molecules, but quantum computers use yet smaller particles, and are probably faster. Why have ten billion teeny atoms solving a problem in a couple seconds, when you can have one molecule solve the problem all possible ways in less time?
  • big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zod000 ( 568383 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:30PM (#4526656) Homepage
    'Even if CMOS density follows Moore's Law for 40 more years, molecular cascades are still going to be smaller,'

    Chances are it'll be more than 40 years until they could make an actual product with this technology so I don't think that I'm going to hold off on getting that new conventional cpu quite yet
  • Excuse my ignorance, but what are the real life applications of this technology?

    I'm guessing medicine, but does anyone have any good ideas on how to use it?
    • I could be completely wrong, but this sounds a little like a primitive ancestor of the kind of "Rod Logic" system Neil Stevenson describes in "Diamond Age"

      Just a thought.
    • Hmm,
      it's called research there maybe no application for it. You are also extremely ignorant if you cannot gues what a an array of logic gates might be used for.

      I guess the PC has somewhat lowered the bar.
    • by Goonie ( 8651 ) <robert.merkelNO@SPAMbenambra.org> on Friday October 25, 2002 @01:14AM (#4527626) Homepage
      Maybe this won't have *any* practical applications. It's pure research. Maybe it'll sit in a journal for 20 years before some young postgrad will read it, realize that because of (insert random other advances here) he or she can use that technology to {control nanobots, build a beowulf cluster on a chip, implant it in people's brains}.

      Kind of like when Alexander Fleming wrote up a journal paper back in 1928(?) about how mould killed bacteria, and Walter Florey found it in a literature search a decade later and set his research team to isolate the responsible compound and figure out how to produce it in bulk.

      I've had this experience myself. I needed to find an efficient algorithm for a relatively obscure problem. The usual textbooks didn't help, but I finally located a survey paper which finally revealed a 1981 journal article which described exactly the algorithm I was looking for.

  • by RyMon ( 547040 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:31PM (#4526660) Homepage
    but what about the speed?

    "The slow operation of the gates -- some required seconds to settle -- underscores the fact that the work was part of a research project."

    You pretty much have your choice of one chip that does something 250,000 times in a second, or 250,000 chips that do one thing each a second... Until they can speed these things up, they're more of a curiosity than a useful technology.

    • I am sure they said the same thing when the Univac was invented.
      • No they said "so what if it costs $1m you get the source to the OS"
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually it was the other way around. Its speed was phenomenal at the time, but the size and cost were prohibitive.

        In any case, it has little bearing on the validity of the original poster's point. A CPU operating at 1Hz is useless unless it is massively parallel. It is also worth noting that you would need several billion of these CPUs in parallel just to equal one of todays processors. So, until they can make it go several billion times faster (not an exageration btw) it is just an interesting experiment.
    • by SWPadnos ( 191329 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @12:03AM (#4527353)
      Well...

      Applying a little physics (but not too much, since I don't have the references or the desire/ability to go through the really rough calculations :) :

      The "average" air molecule travels at about 300 meters/sec at room temperature. This speed is a multiple of the temperature T, divided by the mass m of the molecule - E=3/2kT=1/2 mv^2 (so CO is a little faster than average, since Carbon is lighter than Oxygen or Nitrogen)

      So, if they can build room temperature versions of this (the sample was at 4-10 K), and the size remains about the same (17nm across), and the molecules travel say half their speed in atmosphere, and the computational nodes get "recharged" as fast as they calculate, then the thing would be able to go at about 4.4 GHz.

      Not too bad, actually.

      Probably within an order of magnitude, at least (ie, wrong :)
    • It's pretty fast when you consider that the whole thing is cooled to about 2-4K .
  • by kjd ( 41294 ) <(kdraper) (at) (swbell.net)> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:32PM (#4526663)
    Nooo!!! You're stepping on them!!!
  • by jonman_d ( 465049 ) <nemilar&optonline,net> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:34PM (#4526670) Homepage Journal
    It's not the size that counts, it's how you use it!

    That was so unexpected.....yeah, right.
  • by abhinavnath ( 157483 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:35PM (#4526676)
    All those people worrying about asphyxiating on carbon monoxide...

    CO binds very tightly to metallic ligands such as copper. The Carbon atom has an unbound lone pair of electrons, that are donated to the metal's d-electron shell. Additionally the CO molecule creates a pi-back-bonding system with the metal center, making the complex even more stable.

    Upshot: the CO is not going to spontaneously leak off the chip into your atmosphere. In any case, I doubt that such logic circuits would contain sufficient carbon monoxide to pose a health threat.

    (Interesting side note: CO asphyxiates you by binding very tightly to the iron in hemoglobin in your blood, much more tightly than oxygen can. IIRC, however, CO will preferentially bind to copper over Fe.)
  • The first person who makes a Star Trek joke about Cascading Failure gets shot.
  • by Chromal ( 56550 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:36PM (#4526684) Homepage
    Aw, I was almost getting excited as I read the article. This technology appears to be a long way from being a post-silicon circuit alternative for CPUs.

    It's "exceedingly slow," according to the article. Still, maybe some kind of niche exists for it to be useful. Then again, maybe they'll implement the NOT gate and get this puppy running near the frequency of 500nm light or something.

    I'd be excited by that. :)
  • by sssmashy ( 612587 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:36PM (#4526688)
    The slow operation of the gates -- some required seconds to settle -- underscores the fact that the work was part of a research project. "We have made extraordinarily small, albeit exceedingly slow, logic circuits," Heinrich said.

    250,000 times smaller than the most advanced silicon circuitry. Of course, it's also 250,000,000 times slower. I'm guessing there won't be molecular cascade chips in my PC anytime soon, unless I have a lot of free time...

  • by CySurflex ( 564206 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:40PM (#4526699)
    LOS ANGELES 6:39PM PST - The American Assocation of Midgets issued a press release stating "finally a computer company is aligned with our cause. We, the worlds smallest people have been waiting for decades for the worlds smallest computer."
    • The American Assocation of Midgets issued a press release stating "finally a computer company is aligned with our cause...

      I don't know if they really want this. Look:

      the system relies on a 'molecular cascade' that pushes a handful of carbon monoxide molecules across a copper surface to perform digital logic functions.

      It is miniture *slavery*. A bunch of cascade dudes bully a "handful" of carbon molecules by pushing them around and dragging them across the copper floor, forcing them to perform functions.

      Does not sound like Dwarf Paradise to me.
  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:44PM (#4526716) Journal
    Somebody correct me if I am getting this whole thing wrong, but AFAIK, when you go down to molecular levels, due to the uncertainty principle, sometimes the dominos will not fall as you predict, becauese either
    1) they were already fallen you just didn't know, or
    2) statistically speaking there is a much higher chance for "spontaneous reverse-thermodynamics" on a molecular level.

    what i mean is that while macroscopically speaking, the universe is headed toward higher entropy, molecularly speaking, it's not necessarily so; The example commonly given is that you can drop and shatter an egg, or an shattered egg can come together, absorbing the sound waves etc and rise back into your hand. the latter will not (or, has completely ignorable probability of) happening, but as you and the egg gets smaller, the chance of this ignorable probability becomes less so.

    hence, a molecular computer has the probability of operating "faultily" because of the laws of thermodynamics is not followed 100%. this is currently overcome by the thousands / millions of electrons we send over gates, probabilistically speaking they still behave on a macro level, but a molecular computer has no such luxury.

    i mean, even there was only a minute chance that one molecule will go backwards as what we intended -- counting up the billions of calculations per second we expect from each chip, and the number of chips out there, and then the number of seconds / days / monthes / years they are expected to operate, the chance of error is almost inevitable. some serious redundancy / self-healing hardware / software might need to be invented.

    i am just blabbing, though. like i said: i am no molecular physicist, so if there are some here, please comment.
    • by shirameroix ( 595121 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:05PM (#4526825)
      In the article it was said that 10,000 hops were executed, and in that time, no noticeable errors were seen. Call me crazy, but thats a lot of hops and no error to speak of. I thought it was also interesting how IBM said that the tests were performed at 4k. I dont know about you, but molecules move pretty freakin slow at that temperature. Like the article said, boost the temp, and the speed of the circuit should increase as well. This may not be as slow is the EE times article made it out to be.
    • So far, the molecular cascades have a perfect operational record, Heinrich said. "We have seen over 10,000 of these hops and we have never seen an incorrect one," he said. In fact, it was this incredible reliability of the cascade that first attracted Heinrich to invent the domino code.
    • by Compuser ( 14899 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:18PM (#4526878)
      Well, as someone doing stm research I think
      I am qualified to answer. Quantum uncertainty
      isn't THE problem in this case. You are dealing
      with huge atoms like copper and even huger
      system like CO. They aren't exactly classical
      at this scale but they aren't going to tunnel
      out either. Especially since this research was
      done at or below 4K (Don only has low temp.
      microscope in the lab). At that temperature stuff
      doesn't like to go anywhere.
      The real limitations here are:
      a. STM is slow. In this case STM is used to
      manipulate individual atoms so it will be hard to
      make this much faster than it is already.
      b. STM tips sometimes change. They are usually
      atomically sharp so the probability of one atom
      moving is not altogether small. Not a big deal
      in research but may not be reliable enough for
      production.
      c. Copper or any other surface cannot be made
      entirely free of defects. This limits the size of
      circuits you can build. I will be amazed if this
      technology scales at all (even by one order of
      magnitude).
      d. Did I mention this will only work so reliably
      at low temperature? You have heard of crazy guys
      cooling their OC'ed rigs with liquid nitrogen...
      Well, this is waaaay colder than that.

      All that said, this is very impressive work as far
      as research goes.
    • by teaserX ( 252970 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @12:27AM (#4527455) Homepage Journal
      Close. I think you mean "quantum level" or "sub-atomic level". On a molecular scale things still follow the laws of classical physics.
      <scold>

      Go look up the difference between "quantum" and "molecular" levels and start your post over.

      </scold>
    • DNA is an example of a molecule where the position of billions of individual atoms matters. And, guess what, it's quite stable and it works very well for information storage.
  • by CySurflex ( 564206 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:44PM (#4526717)
    Tiny computers [tiny.com] were there first, and I believe they even have a patent for the worlds smallest computers. Pictures of the products on their web site are actual size.
  • Oh my God (Score:5, Funny)

    by Graspee_Leemoor ( 302316 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:46PM (#4526728) Homepage Journal
    What if we're all part of some gigantic computer and the molecules we put to work computing were already computing something ?

    Is God going to sue us for stealing processing power ?

    graspee

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Of course we're all part of some giant computer. We're here to compute the question that goes with the answer "42".
    • by G-funk ( 22712 )
      What if we're all part of some gigantic computer and the molecules we put to work computing were already computing something ?

      Well duh! What do you think the mice are doing here?
    • > What if we're all part of some gigantic computer and the molecules we put to work computing were already computing something ?


      I tend to think that we're more likely the mung that's collected inside God's keyboard...

      "News Flash! Hubble Telescope Detects Giant Fingernail Clipping and Cluster of Muffin Crumbs"

      Cheers,
      Jim
    • You are exactly right. God is a human computer user in the year 2743. He's trying to decide what to buy his girlfriend for her birthday, so he's decided to make a computational model of the universe so that he can check which gift is the one that's most likely to help him get lucky tonight.

      He wants it to be accurate, so he's modeling every moment since the year 2001.

      You've made a great point about how presumptive all religions are.
    • ...could you imagine a beouwolf cluster of us things?
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:49PM (#4526749)
    ...it still wouldn't be large enough to connect a network cable.
  • Read The Diamond Age [gatech.edu] by Neil Stephenson. He talks about rod logic in there, similar to what they are doing at IBM.
  • Wasn't that what caused all the aliens to pop up in 'Half-Life'?

    RMN
    ~~~
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:05PM (#4526823)
    ... is that AMD chips run on smoke, and IBM chips run on Carbon Monoxide.
  • You can read the express paper at Science [sciencemag.org].
  • Cheating (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rui del-Negro ( 531098 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:09PM (#4526844) Homepage
    From the article:

    The most complex circuit they built is so small that 190 billion could fit atop a standard pencil-top eraser 7mm in diameter.

    In my days, when you wanted to show something was really small, you counted how many you could fit on the end of a pin, or in the width of a human hair. Comparing it with something that's almost 1 cm across is cheating.

    RMN
    ~~~
  • by krazyninja ( 447747 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:15PM (#4526863)
    My first thought was, the structure once toppled, IS toppled, and with a stationary background, it would not be possible to reset it. I found it is indeed true. In the IBM page [ibm.com], it states
    ...It takes several hours to set up the most complicated cascades. Since there is no reset mechanism, these molecule cascades can only perform a calculation once....

    My idea is, have a non-stationary background of copper plane, which through some mechanism (which causes repulsion of the CO molecules) places the molecules in the reset position, ready to be "toppled" again!
  • Can it work /twice/?
    They compare this to a domino effect. I dont recall any dominos volenteering to set themselves back up. Is this just one-shot proccessing? Nice idea, but I dont think this is the future, not in current form anyway.

  • there is a nail stuck in a piece of stone for 200 years.
    the nail has fused itself into the stone.

    there is a glass window pane, it has slowly melted
    into a warbled surface, so the light passing through
    it and coming into my room is no longer uniform.

    the smaller you make it,
    the less long it will last.

    the 0.20 micron chips will last longer
    than the nano-chips made 10 years later.

    cheers!
    john [earthlink.net]

    • there is a glass window pane, it has slowly melted
      into a warbled surface, so the light passing through
      it and coming into my room is no longer uniform.

      Glass doesn't flow. Old glass is crap because it was crap when they made it. Their manufacturing techniques weren't as good as ours.

      Here a link [sciencenews.org].

    • there is a glass window pane, it has slowly melted
      into a warbled surface, so the light passing through
      it and coming into my room is no longer uniform.


      Nope. Myth. Glass doesn't sag. It was like that to begin with[0]; glass processes have gotten better which is why window panes today are perfectly flat. This analogy actually DISPROVES what you are trying to say.

      [0] They used to blow a big bubble of molten glass on the end of a metal rod. While spinning the bubble, someone would break the bubble at the end, causing the edges of the bubble to fly out and form a spinning disk. The edge portions of the discs were cut into panes; while pretty flat, they would have concentric irregularities. The center of the disk was called a bulls-eye, they would use them in windows and lamps to spread light in different directions.
  • by I Am The Owl ( 531076 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:32PM (#4526934) Homepage Journal
    "...And here is our parallel computing cluster..."

    *SNEEZE*

    "SHIT! OK, nobody move..."

  • once it becomes profitable. Then sue IBM unless they pay me the appropriate royalties.
  • Now it's electrons on silicon

    Next its CO on Cu

    Then will it be quarks in a single atom?

    Eventually we will be figuring out how to slow down tachyons enough to read our output.

    I go now to the Toronto Metro Ref

    I'm looking for something to invent

    I need a 1901 newspaper

  • Moore's law lays in shards.
    The head of a pin is the supercomputer.
    Nanotech is yesterday's news.
    Even Feynman [zyvex.com] couldn't imagine how much room there is.

  • When they can achieve this level [sigmaxi.org] of sophistication, I'll be suitably impressed.
  • damn (Score:3, Funny)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @11:15PM (#4527142) Homepage
    I thought the headline read "Caffene Molecules Drive IBM's Smallest Computer"

    Oh wait.... they power ALL computers
  • by WeeGadget ( 26046 ) <<Slashdot> <at> <Weesner.org>> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @11:16PM (#4527146)
    If a cascading molecule NOT gate is hard then thier cascading domino metaphor must not be accurate... It's easy to build a domino NOT gate. Here's how:

    TtttttttttttttR
    i
    i
    I

    It's 2 runs in an L shape. Simultaneously gate a True signal at T and the input signal at I, read the result at R. Note: True = Falls, False = Stands.

    Here's how it works :
    If I = True then the shorter I run knocks down the last t. When the longer T run reaches R, the last t will already have fallen so R will not fall. so we have:
    I = True --> R = False

    If I = False then the T run will knock down R. So we have:
    I = False --> R = True

    That's a NOT gate!

    Combine that with a V shaped OR gate and you have a NOR gate. It's well known that any logic function can be constructed from NOR gates.

    Jonathan Weesner
    • It's well known that any logic function can be constructed from NOR gates.

      Now I'm only midway through my intro to digital logic class this semester, but from my current understanding can't you massage any logic function to be implemented with any sort of gates you want? It may not be pretty, but it always seems possible.
    • Well this is PURE speculation at 2am, so don't take me too seriously. But, with the sizes they're talking about, I don't see how the domino analogy COULD be accurate.. I imagine it's more akin to those hanging steel ball contraptions where you drop one at one end and the energy is transferred to the other end... Now, try and build a NOT gate out of one of those! Not so simple anymore, I think... :)
  • this is it -- this is the way computing will go. ultra-small, using tiny amounts of energy (you could power a tiny supercomputer just with your body heat. a few breakthroughs from now and combined with advanced MEMs, the possibilities are frightening.
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @12:11AM (#4527388)
    In other news, Intel has today announced the immediate delivery of their new processor, the Crazium. Touted as being the most technologically advanced processor ever developed, the Crazium is said to execute, in a matter of microseconds, programs that take many hundreds of hours on the most powerful supercomputers. The Crazium boasts many innovative technologies that will certainly crush all of Intel's competitors. These include:
    • Simultaneous Multiprocessing, a technology said to allow several hundred instructions to execute through the same physical wires and gates simultaneously. This allows Intel to reduce the transistor count from 948,089,112,552 transistors, as in the Pentium 6, to 14 transistors. (Plans for the next revision include dropping one of the remaining 14 transistors for cost effectiveness.)
    • Temporal Result Ordering, which uses a built-in fluxcapacitor to efficiently move instructions and data backwards and forwards in time. This allows the processor to execute code during idle cycles and deliver the results to processes that have already finished executing, or will begin executing at some future time. This provides an incredible boost in speed and efficiency because:
      1. The processor can use the result of a computation before the computation itself is executed, and even before the program that contains the computation is loaded into memory.
      2. Computations whose results will be used at some future time can be performed early, before the user even decides to run the program.
    • SpiritRun Technology, an extension of Temporal Result Ordering, which allows the processor to execute program code by its spirit, rather than its letter. As all programs contain bugs, or programmer errors which lead to undesired program behavior and crashes, this technology will save businesses over $80 billion dollars per year in lost data, staff time and resources. SpiritRun uses Temporal Result Ordering to detect crashes before they occur (again, during idle cycles taking place in the past, present or future) and analyses the program in its entirety to determine the cause of the undesired operation. At this time, the processor automatically corrects the program code to provide the desired operation. This technology also makes all code 100% secure because the processor detects crackers before they're even born and automatically modifies the holes that allowed them access in the first place.
    • Built-in Photorealism Processing Unit, which generates photorealistic graphics by allocating a parallel universe which physically contains a perfect replica of the object being rendered and a photographer. The photographer takes a perfect photograph of the subject and it is digitally transmitted via the Interverse to the processor. Because the parallel universe has a timeline of its own, completely separated from our perception of time, this information appears to arrive immediately, even though the photography may take several hours in the parallel universe.
    • Built-in Orchestra Sound Unit, which generates sounds for audio applications which rivals that of the greatest orchestras in the world. This works similarly to the Photorealism Processing Unit, except that a parallel universe is created which contains an orchestra. The sound is recorded and transmitted, again, appearing to arrive immediately, even though the orchestra may have practiced the piece for years in the parallel universe.
    As you can clearly see, AMD has a lot of catching up to do.
  • by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Friday October 25, 2002 @05:15AM (#4528237)
    The slow operation of the gates -- some required seconds to settle -- underscores the fact that the work was part of a research project.
    Ok. I could build an AND gate out of teenage girls and cell phones that would settle within an order of magnitude of this. (yes I'm trying to be funny, but the statement is true).

    It's an interesting project, but that's a long way to go....

Is it possible that software is not like anything else, that it is meant to be discarded: that the whole point is to always see it as a soap bubble?

Working...