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HP move to molecular chip production

Antony Savvas

HP is aiming to manufacture computer chips with molecules rather than using more expensive silicon transistors.

The company has developed an alternative chip making system that relies on technology called "crossbar latches", which perform the calculations in microprocessors that are currently done with silicon.

These latches consist of grids of microscopic wires linked by molecules at the intersections. The latches could be printed, which is much cheaper than the fine production processes needed to manufacture silicon chips.

The size of chips has rapidly been shrunk in line with Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on a silicon chip will double every two years - allowing the development of smaller, more powerful chips.

Eventually though the laws of physics mean there is a limit to manufacturers’ ability to shrink silicon chips further.

HP patented related technology for the production of crossbar latch chip systems in 2002, and produced a paper on the issue last year.

The company is now moving closer to commercial production of the system, but isn’t expected to have anything available for live systems until the next decade.

Other companies including Intel, AMD and IBM are also developing alternative chip production systems.


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