On-Chip Routers Could be a Choke Point for Future Chips

Interconnect delays dwarfed by slow-downs at sluggish routers in future many-core chips, say researchers

2 min read

10 March 2010—Dual- and quad-core processors are already fairly common, and the microprocessor industry has its sights set on a not-too-distant future when hundreds of cores will populate each chip.

But in research set to appear in an upcoming issue of IEEE Electron Device Letters, engineers at Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, report that in order for the semiconductor industry to make 100-core chips commercially available by 2015 (with hundreds more cores per chip a few years after that), the basic thinking behind their design will have to change. Until now, researchers thought that delays caused by the chips’ nanometers-thin interconnects would be the bugaboo, but it turns out that routers represent a much bigger source of delay that must be overcome first.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

1 min read
A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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