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IBM Hardware Technology

Graphene Transistors Clocked At 26GHz 174

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the slightly-faster-than-one dept.
KentuckyFC writes "A team at IBM has built the first high quality graphene transistors and clocked them running at 26 GHz . That doesn't quite knock silicon off its perch. The fastest silicon transistors are an order of magnitude faster than that but the record is held by indium phosphide transistors which have topped 1000 GHz. But it's not bad for a new kid on the block. It took silicon 40 years to get this far. By contrast, the first graphene transistor was built only last year. IBM says 'the work represents a significant step towards the realization of graphene-based electronics.' (Abstract)."
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Graphene Transistors Clocked At 26GHz

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  • Duh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by hobbit (5915) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @10:26AM (#26075237)

    But it's not bad for a new kid on the block. It took silicon 40 years to get this far. By contrast, the first graphene transistor was built only last year.

    Though mobile phones are not as powerful as mainframe computers, they're not doing badly considering they've only been a relatively short time.

    Therefore it stands to reason that the mobile phones of the future will doubtless be more powerful than the mainframe computers of the future!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2008 @10:28AM (#26075283)

    Wow. 1000 Ghz... are we getting anywhere near light frequencies now? It would be cool to have transistors able to switch light. Right now laser data transmission has to be converted to electrons, then switched at a much lower frequency. If we could eliminate that step and improve efficiencies... well...this would kick ass!

  • Why? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by docgiggles (1425995) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @10:38AM (#26075441)
    At some point, we have to conclude that we are good. Silicon is likely the best material for chips, and will continue to stay that way. other materials have been tried (Germanium was the first) but silicon took precedence because it was cheap and efficient, and I don't see any reason to change that
  • Re:Not again... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Icegryphon (715550) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @10:51AM (#26075621)
    yeah, where are my 3.8Ghz dual cores? Multicores are nice if you have parallel task, but if you have a serial task.. well.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @11:13AM (#26075945) Journal

    At some point, we have to conclude that we are good. Silicon is likely the best material for chips, and will continue to stay that way. other materials have been tried (Germanium was the first) but silicon took precedence because it was cheap and efficient, and I don't see any reason to change that

    Silicon sucks.

    Pretty much the only redeeming feature it has is that its cheap. when you compare the material properties of Si to GaAs, IIRC, GaAs is better in every way. Unfortunately its also about 100 times as expensive. At least it was back in the mid 90s when I last studied that.

  • Re:Yes but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phillous (1160303) <philipjmmason@gmail.com> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @11:18AM (#26076019)
    ok so I wasn't thinking, forgot about my tags, and now I look like the fool... should look like this..

    What you're after is something like...

    1) Graphene Transistors Run Linux
    2) Year of Linux on the Desktop
    3) Imagine a Beowulf cluster of Graphene Transistors running Linux
    4) In Soviet Russia, Year of Linux on the Desktop runs Beowulf cluster of Graphene Transistors
    5) But does it run Vista / Crysis ?
    6) ...
    7) Profit!

    You, Sir, appear to be the new one here.

    I shall now let myself out whilst I learn to preview
  • Re:Practical limit (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2008 @11:25AM (#26076159)

    This might be a practical limit to the GHz race.

    Of course, once we exhaust possible advances in digital technology, the next step is analog computing. There is not even a theoretical limit to that.

  • Not even close. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by frieko (855745) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @11:51AM (#26076585)
    You're never going to have clock frequencies in the light range, for the simple fact that light waves are shorter than the diameter of an atom and thus bigger than any transistor.

    Luckily switching light doesn't require transistors that fast. For example, an LCD display switches light directly, without first converting it to electrons. That uses electricity to switch light, but the idea has already been extended to switching light with light in the lab.
  • Re:Practical limit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by krenshala (178676) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:00PM (#26076755) Homepage

    However, the position of the sun does get transmitted to the earth faster than the speed of light. Its called aberration, and the instantaneous position of hte sun is 20 arc seconds ahead of the visible (8.3 minute light lagged) position that you see in the sky. Astronomers are unable to point their telescopes in the correct direction if they assume gravity effects travel at the speed of light. they get the correct position if they assume it is instantaneous (at least for stuff in our star system).

  • Re:Practical limit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @12:57PM (#26077665) Journal

    it's the same speed as the speed of light...

    Correct... although electrons actually don't propagate that rapidly though a wire, GP was fundamentally correct in that an electron doesn't have to travel the entire length of the wire to transmit the signal. The added electrons at one end of the wire force electrons out the other, and the electrical force is transmitted through the wire at the speed of light. Push an electron into the wire at one end, and you should expect an electron to come out the other end after a delay of wire length/c.

    However, GP incorrectly assumes that the "almost instantaneous" reaction is insignificant... on the contrary, it's very significant at high clock rates (as several others have correctly noted).

  • by chrysrobyn (106763) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @03:14PM (#26080093)

    That said, there's a reason you don't see much GaAS integrated circuits, even though GaAs has been around for decades, and has much higher carrier mobility (and therefore top speeds) than silicon: it's hard to devise a good IC technology for GaAs.

    We used to say the same thing about SiGe, but that's starting to make its way into CMOS technologies. Standard 100% bulk Si is hitting the wall of what's possible. Even if geometries are 10-20% bigger, but provide better switching speeds, on currents or lower off currents, we're going to have to keep working in order to improve. Further improvements, like our accomplishments to date, will not be easy. I don't know what advantages GaAs or graphene will have to them once their issues are worked out (you can bet several advantages will have to be compromised to ramp production), but I know that GaAs has higher defect rates, so that's one thing that's going to have to improve before we see it changing ICs as we know them.

    There's no way you could describe today's technology that we take for granted to an expert 20 years ago and have them believe you. Copper and SOI before 2000 (in 1997, some experts predicted each were 10+ years away, to say nothing of merging them)? A return to metal gates? Vertical FETs?

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