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World’s First Programmable Nanoprocessor

Made up of ten-nanometre-thick germanium wires, this nanoprocessor far surpasses similar projects in terms of complexity and function.

The nanoprocessor was assembled from nanometre-scale components by a team of US researchers. Made up of ten-nanometre-thick germanium wires, each 960µm² tile containing 496 programmable transistors is capable of performing basic arithmetic and logical functions. Although such capabilities pale in comparison to current processors, it is a world's first for nanoprocessors.

There has been difficulties in assembling nanoscale structures as materials exhibit variations in their properties as we progress from the microscale to nanoscale. While these processors could be used in applications such as tiny embedded system and biomedical devices, they still have to be improved to compete effectively with conventional electronics. Each nanotransistor occupies 1.9μm2 – more than twenty times the 0.09μm2 area required by logic gates in current 32nm CMOS chips.

In comparison to the Intel Sandy Bridge which was launched last month, Intel fits each of its 995 million transistors into a 0.217μm2 area, with a total area of 216mm2 (square millimetres).

The researchers claim that their chip can be further improved to 100 times more efficient than current electronics, and requiring only 0.0017μm2 per transistor.


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