HP looks to nanotechnology to keep computing power doubling

Hewlett-Packard will this week present its strategy for a computing future based around nanotechnology, rather than traditional...

Hewlett-Packard will this week present its strategy for a computing future based around nanotechnology, rather than traditional silicon processors.

The company has invited scientists to a symposium being held at HP labs on 25 March to discuss the future of Moore’s Law. The law, formulated by Intel founder Gordon Moore, states that the number of transistors on a chip - ie computing power - doubles every 18 months.

HP is investigating the types of technology that will be required to continue improving basic computing capability in the future, when the industry will hit economic or physical limitations to the continuation of Moore’s Law.

At the symposium HP researchers will be joined by 16 prominent scientists from universities, national labs, scientific institutes and companies around the world.

Stan Williams, HP senior fellow and director, quantum science research, HP Labs, said, "Computers of tomorrow could be quite different from what they are today. When you can make a computing appliance so tiny that it could fit across the width of a hair, you could enable many different things to become ‘smart’.

"Computing could become as ubiquitous as electricity - it is just there, making things work. The possibilities are limited only by human imagination."

In a paper covering nanotechnology, HP researchers said molecular electronics will eventually provide a way to build circuits with critical dimensions of a few nanometers.

IBM’s famous demonstration of writing its name in atoms using a scanning tunneling microscope, showed it was possible to manipulate materials at an atomic level. This procedure cannot be scaled up to fabricate large quantities of nanochips.

Williams said HP was researching cost-effective methods of fabrication for nanochips HP researchers are also looking at a variety of fabrication processes, from nano-imprint lithography - a kind of production process akin to a traditional printing press - to chemical self-assembly by growing silicon nanowires between electrodes.

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