IBM spending $3 billion to rethink decades-old computer design

Types of Carbon Nanotubes

A reminder that quantum computing isn’t necessarily the only way forward in processor technology: IBM spending $3 billion to rethink decades-old computer design – Computerworld.

IBM will pour US$3 billion into computing and chip materials research over the next five years, as it rethinks computer design and looks to a future that may not involve silicon chips.

The computer design initiative could pave the way for functional quantum and cognitive computers that mimic brain functionality.

“The basic architecture of the computer has remained unchanged since the 1940s. We feel, given the kinds of problems we see today, [that] this is the time to start looking for new forms of computing,” said Supratik Guha, director of physical sciences for IBM Research.

Silicon design has stalled and the ability to shrink chips is reaching its limit. IBM is looking at graphene, carbon nanotubes and other materials to replace silicon in computers, and will try to develop chips that can be scaled down to the atomic level.

It’s interesting that the basic processing paradigm hasn’t changed since von Neumann.  Our capacities and performance have increased exponentially.  We run a lot of stuff in parallel now, including on the main chip.  But the fundamental way a computer works hasn’t changed all that much.  I suspect we’re going to start seeing a number of alternate fundamental designs as computing starts to hit up against the laws of physics, necessity being the mother of invention and all.

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