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Nanowire Transistors Could Keep Moore’s Law Alive

Researchers are perfecting ways to produce gate-all-around devices

3 min read
Nanowire Transistors Could Keep Moore’s Law Alive
Gate-All-Around Transistors: In a new design, the transistor channel is made up of an array of vertical nanowires. The gate surrounds all the nanowires, which improves its ability to control the flow of current. Platinum-based source and drain contacts sit at the top and bottom of the nanowires.
Illustration: Emily Cooper

The end of Moore’s Law has been predicted again and again. And again and again, new technologies, most recently FinFETs, have dispelled these fears. Engineers may already have come up with the technology that will fend off the next set of naysayers: nanowire FETs (field-effect transistors).


In these nanodevices, current flows through the nanowire or is pinched off under the control of the voltage on the gate electrode, which surrounds the nanowire. Hence, nanowire FETs’ other name: “gate-all-around” transistors. However, because of their small size, single nanowires can’t carry enough current to make an efficient transistor.


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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.

Avicena

If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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