Istraživači grade CPU bez silicijuma pomoću karbonskih nanocjevčica



It is no secret that silicon manufacturing is an expensive and difficult process which requires big investment and a lot of effort to get right. Take Intel's 10 nm for example. It was originally planned to launch in 2015, but because of technical difficulties, it got delayed for 2019. That shows how silicon scaling is getting more difficult than ever, while costs are rising exponentially. Development of newer nodes is expected to cost billions of Dollars more, just for the research alone and that is not even including the costs for the setting up a manufacturing facility. In order to prepare for the moment when the development of ever-decreasing size nodes becomes financially and physically unfeasible, researchers are exploring new technologies that could replace and possibly possess even better electrical properties than silicon. One such material (actually a structure made from it) is Carbon Nanotube or CNT in short.

Istraživači s MIT-a, u suradnji sa znanstvenicima iz Analog Devices, uspješno su izgradili procesor temeljen na RISC-V arhitekturi u potpunosti koristeći CNT-ove. Nazvan RV16X Nano, ovaj CPU trenutno je sposoban izvesti samo klasični 'Hello World' program. CNT je prirodni poluvodič, no kad se proizvodi, izrađuje se kao metalna nanocjevčica. To je zbog činjenice da se metalne nanocjevčice lakše integriraju u proizvodni ekosustav. Preduzeće ima brojne izazove u proizvodnji jer se CNT-i najčešće nasumično postavljaju u XYZ osi. Istraživači s MIT-a i analognih uređaja riješili su ovaj problem napravivši dovoljno velike površine tako da je dovoljno slučajnih cijevi dobro postavljeno. Procesor se temelji na RISC-V arhitekturi, posebno je dizajniran za rukovanje 32-bitnim uputama u 16-bitnom dizajnu široke memorijske adrese. Budući da su sve faze cjevovoda za CPU (Preuzimanje uputstva, dešifriranje, registriranje čitanja, izvršavanje i pisanje natrag) 16-bitne širine, CPU je službeno proglašen 16-bitnim. Koristi 14.000 logičkih vrata, poput vrata ili NE ili kako bi postao potpuno funkcionalan dizajn. S obzirom na pažljivu manipulaciju s nanocjevčicama, istraživači su uspjeli izvući 100% iskorištenje, što znači da je svih 14.000 kapija radilo ispravno. Evo valnog oblika izvršenja programa Hello World (iako to nije baš Crysis, s obzirom na položaj ove tehnologije, to je prilično impresivno postignuće): The technology isn't perfect, yet. The chip ran at a very low clock speed of only 10 kHz, which means that your average CPU is an order of magnitude faster than this. With all of the flaws, this demonstration is an important achievement for the technology - a proof of concept. It shows that you are able to manufacture a working example of CPU based on something that doesn't require silicon and possibly is even better than it. We just haven't perfected all of the bits and pieces required to get CNTs at the same level of performance we already have. Sources: Nature Magazine, ArsTechnica