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Hardware

MIT's Hybrid Microchip To Overcome Silicon Size Barrier 77

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the keeping-up-with-the-moore's dept.
schliz writes "MIT researchers have successfully embedded a gallium nitride layer onto silicon to create a hybrid microchip. The method could be further developed to combine other technologies such as spintronics and optoelectronics on a silicon chip. It is expected to be commercialized in a couple of years, and allow manufacturers to keep up with Moore's Law despite today's shrinking devices."
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MIT's Hybrid Microchip To Overcome Silicon Size Ba

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @10:02AM (#29491609)

    Unless the figure out a way to make plastic stronger, I think cellphones shouldn't get much thinner or smaller.

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Monday September 21, 2009 @10:07AM (#29491661)

    Smaller equals faster, and can equal lower power. Both of these are good for cellphones, and lots of other things.

    More to the point, this particular advance means fewer individual chips, which means cheaper.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday September 21, 2009 @10:56AM (#29492263) Journal

    Would Intel have come as far as it did recently if Moore had never put his famous observation onto paper?

    Yes. Someone else would have made a similar guess. Developing a CPU takes around 5 years. When you start, you need to know roughly how many transistors you will be able to use to make it. This depends on the market segment it will be aiming for (and the amount people are willing to pay for a chip in that segment) and the number of transistors you will be able to fit on a chip for that much money. Moore's 'law' is a good rule of thumb that lets you make a reasonable guess as to how many transistors you can fit on a chip by the time it is ready to be made. Sometimes it works, sometimes (e.g. the P4) it doesn't. Without it, Intel would have had to use some other mechanism for making guesses, but given that Moore's law is just a simple extrapolation from their past performance, that's probably what they would have used anyway.

  • by StCredZero (169093) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:02AM (#29492373)

    Would Intel have come as far as it did recently if Moore had never put his famous observation onto paper?

    James Burke talked a lot about the phenomenon of the exponential explosion of technology in his Connections series [wikipedia.org]. Many others have commented about this as well. (Toeffler, Vinge, Kuzweil, to name a few) Technology often makes other technology easier, so you have an exponential chain reaction. Moore's law is just a consequence of this acceleration of technological advance in a highly technical field.

    I am also reminded of a chip industry quip: "Gallium Arsenide, the technology of the future! Always was, always will be!" I hope that finally becomes wrong!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:28AM (#29492725)

    There is another impact of this technology that has nothing to do with Moore's law. If a GaN device such a blue or green LED can be grown on a Si substrate then it could be a lot less expensive. This could pave the way for much less expensive white light LED's. Why? Because some of the methods of making a "white" LED require a blue and/or green LED. You can make a red LED (in AlGaAs, not GaN), a green LED (in GAN), and a blue LED (in GaN) and combine them to make white. Or, you can make a blue (or purple) LED and use it to excite a phosphor to get the red and green light. Both of these methods rely on GaN devices. And as of a few years ago, GaN was grown on less ideal substrates such as sapphire or (expensive) SiC. GaN substrates were beginning to appear, but they were obscenely expensive.

    If this works, it does change the game for lighting. But, that isn't covered by Moore's law.

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