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IBM Hardware Technology

Graphene Transistors 10x Faster Than Silicon 170

Asadullah Ahmad writes "IBM has created transistors made from carbon atoms, which operate at 100 gigahertz, while using a manufacturing process that is compatible with current semiconductor fabrication. With silicon close to its physical limits, graphene seems like a viable replacement until quantum computing gets to desktop. Quoting: 'Researchers have previously made graphene transistors using laborious mechanical methods, for example by flaking off sheets of graphene from graphite; the fastest transistors made this way have reached speeds of up to 26 gigahertz. Transistors made using similar methods have not equaled these speeds.'" The other day we discussed what sounds like similar research by a group of scientists at Tohoku University; that team did not produce transistors, however.
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Graphene Transistors 10x Faster Than Silicon

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  • by LikwidCirkel ( 1542097 ) on Friday February 05, 2010 @11:27AM (#31034764)
    With all the stories of highly-experimental new, novel types of transistors - the majority of which are expensive-research only with no chance of commercialization any time soon, it's refreshing to see something that actually takes production feasibility into account.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 05, 2010 @11:40AM (#31034924)

    "The prototype devices, made from atom-thick sheets of carbon, operate at 100 gigahertz"

    Define operate? This sounds like the cut-off frequency, which is 100s of GHz for Si CMOS. How is 200GHz 100GHz? And no, this does not mean it can switch this fast. If it can switch this fast, it would likely operate into the THz, and we would be interested in using it for THz applications. Maybe operate is maximum stable oscillation frequency? Ft? Fmax? It's sure as hell not a switching frequency, despite what the article tells us.

    "Growing transistors on a wafer not only leads to better performance, it's also more commercially feasible"

    Growing transistors on a wafer? As compared to what? A waffle?

    Done reading... moving on...

  • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Friday February 05, 2010 @11:48AM (#31034994)

    But there is a limit, no mistake about it. Look at modems. They went through this same limit/new limit methodology for years before they were replaced outright. I think this definitely puts silicon in it's death throws, but I expect some last minute breakthroughs that will push it a bit farther than previously though possible. This is a good thing, in that it forces us to optimize current technologies in ways that we didn't previously consider (like compression did for modems) that in turn was applied to all sorts of communication technologies, and arguably to other technologies outside of communications.

    I just see this as a necessary step before pushing off into the next big thing.

  • by kiehlster ( 844523 ) on Friday February 05, 2010 @11:50AM (#31035020) Homepage
    I have my doubts on whether we'll ever see this because of two things from the article: "first applications of graphene transistors will likely be as switches and amplifiers in analog military electronics" and "Graphene's properties are very sensitive to its environment". This means IBM is placing dainty technology into the hands of the harsh military environment. I've heard how rigorously they test military electronics, and if Graphene is sensitive enough to require insulation, then it's never going to make it past those extreme environment tests they do. Has anyone else seen sensitive materials make it through military applications?
  • by wurp ( 51446 ) on Friday February 05, 2010 @01:04PM (#31036076) Homepage

    Again, that's very easy to say in retrospect. I believe this is an almost identical situation: we have a very complex set of interactions from which we derive one number: "transistor switch speed". We believe we understand those relations well enough that we can derive a fastest speed any possible silicon design can give.

    This speed is far more similar to the "maximum" modem speed than it is to the melting point of some substance.

    Before Ungerboeck's work, information theory seemed very clear about the fastest possible rate at which data could be reliably sent on the frequencies that would "stay on the wire" without bandwidth bleedover. Ungerboeck just demonstrated that there were artificial assumptions underlying the information coding theory on which that speed was based.

    You're looking at documentation after-the-fact on modem speeds, which rightly enough talks about revolutions in theory. From the point of view of people before the revolution in the theory, you talk about physical limits. All limits we calculate are by definition theoretical limits, though.

    To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke: When a scientist or engineer states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

  • Re:Just remember. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted@slashdoA ... inus threevowels> on Friday February 05, 2010 @01:22PM (#31036324)

    You are forgetting the exponentinal acceleration of progress.

    So the duration between 1925 and when they were first used, is not linearly comparable to the duration between now and when those graphene ones will be first used.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday February 05, 2010 @02:53PM (#31037550) Journal
    Wow, way to close your eyes to new knowledge and ideas. That guy had something extremely insightful to say, and you missed it for the sake of an argument (and what a waste of an argument! That processor speed was a stupid thing to chase? Did you never use a Commodore 64? Sigh).

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll