The days of silicon sitting inside our CPUs and GPUs are numbered, according to a recent announcement by chip giant, IBM. They’re betting a cool $3 billion dollars on being able to find a decent alternative before silicon starts to hinder hardware progress.
IBM have demonstrated a new way to place carbon nanotubes as transistors in the commercial production of the teeny, tiny and freakishly powerful, processors of the future.
Microchip manufacturers have been looking for ways to keep up with the demand for ever smaller, ever quicker, ever more efficient chips to power all our techie devices - and they have been very successful. But we are getting to a point where the limits put in place by the laws of physics are going to get in the way of further generations of our gaming processors.
IBM may not make PCs any more, but it looks like that's our loss and not theirs. Supercomputer rankings site TOP500 has just awarded a system based on its Sequoia design the official title of world's fastest computer. The theoretical peak performance of the new number one is almost twice as quick as the previous incumbent of the role, Fujitsu's K Computer.
With almost one hundred thousand individual IBM Power BQC processors and over million and a half cores, the new champ is housed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US where it has a slightly sinister task: it's used by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for modelling the performance of nuclear weapons. In other words, it may be technically faster, since the K Computer is mostly used for things like modelling climate change and designing solar cells, on a scale of moral equivalence it's still our favourite.