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Nanotubes: Pocket-sized 80TFLOPS system is the way to go

Posted: 11 Jul 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:carbon nanotube  memory  stack 

Carbon nanotubes make it possible to imagine the computing power of an IBM Watson system crammed into a smartphone, according to a Stanford researcher. /p>

In a talk at Semicon West, H.S. Philip Wong described a theoretical 3D chip stack interleaving next-generation memory and logic technologies made with carbon nanotubes. Privately, he acknowledged the material still faces huge challenges before it is ready for practical use.

Wong showed a "club sandwich" made from carbon nanotubes. It interleaved layers of resistive and magnetic RAM with logic layers made from 1D and 2D field effect transistors.

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"This design requires new, high-efficiency heat spreaders—the thermal aspect is critically important," he said.

The resulting design could provide a thousand-fold power reduction for the IBM system that consumed 175kW power to beat human contestants in the Jeopardy game show. That system packed 2,880 IBM Power 7 cores running at 3.5GHz delivering 80TFLOPS.

"All the content was loaded into Watson's DRAM, not hard drives, because so much energy is spent in moving data," said Wong.


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