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Future of Low-Power Chips in Doubt

Big flaw found in transistor noise theory

2 min read

Engineers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) say that the basic theory explaining the origin of a certain type of noise produced by very small transistors is totally wrong.

Known as random telegraph noise, this aberrant signal is becoming a problem for static RAM and flash memory, and it will also become a threat to future low-power logic circuits as their dimensions continue to shrink and the voltage at which they operate decreases. Without a theory, engineers will find it difficult to reduce the noise, predicts Jason Campbell, a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at NIST. ”If you don’t know where it’s coming from, you don’t know how to fix it,” he says.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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