A Carbon Nanotube Microprocessor Mature Enough to Say Hello

Three new breakthroughs make commercial nanotube processors possible

4 min read
The first fully-programmable 16-bit carbon nanotube microprocessor
Photo: Max Shulaker, Gage Hills and Christian Lau/MIT

Engineers at MIT and Analog Devices have created the first fully-programmable 16-bit carbon nanotube microprocessor. It’s the most complex integration of carbon nanotube-based CMOS logic so far, with nearly 15,000 transistors, and it was done using technologies that have already been proven to work in a commercial chip-manufacturing facility. The processor, called RV16X-NANO, is a milestone in the development of beyond-silicon technologies, its inventors say.

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A Circuit to Boost Battery Life

Digital low-dropout voltage regulators will save time, money, and power

11 min read
Image of a battery held sideways by pliers on each side.
Edmon de Haro

YOU'VE PROBABLY PLAYED hundreds, maybe thousands, of videos on your smartphone. But have you ever thought about what happens when you press “play”?

The instant you touch that little triangle, many things happen at once. In microseconds, idle compute cores on your phone's processor spring to life. As they do so, their voltages and clock frequencies shoot up to ensure that the video decompresses and displays without delay. Meanwhile, other cores, running tasks in the background, throttle down. Charge surges into the active cores' millions of transistors and slows to a trickle in the newly idled ones.

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