Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Supercomputing Science

New State of Matter Could Extend Moore's Law 329

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-miss-the-original-three dept.
rennerik writes "Scientists at McGill University in Montreal say they've discovered a new state of matter that could help extend Moore's Law and allow for the fabrication of more tightly packed transistors, or a new kind of transistor altogether. The researchers call the new state of matter 'a quasi-three-dimensional electron crystal.' It was discovered using a device cooled to a temperature about 100 times colder than intergalactic space, following the application of the most powerful continuous magnetic field on Earth."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New State of Matter Could Extend Moore's Law

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:59PM (#25475905)

    I believe the term you're looking for is Dilithium.

  • Hell Yeah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpiderClan (1195655) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:59PM (#25475913) Journal

    " It was discovered using a device cooled to a temperature about 100 times colder than intergalactic space, following the application of the most powerful continuous magnetic field on Earth."

    That's exactly what I want in my office.

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:02PM (#25475945) Homepage Journal
      You can borrow my wife if you want powerful attraction followed by extreme coldness.
    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:33PM (#25476321) Homepage Journal

      It was discovered using a device cooled to a temperature about 100 times colder than intergalactic space

      Here in Winnipeg we could just put these units outside thus eliminating the need for cooling units. You can't get much more environmentally friendly than that!
    • Just be thankful we have SSDs now - I'm not sure HDs would be compatible with such a system!
    • Re:Hell Yeah! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Valacosa (863657) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:48PM (#25476479)
      If you did have it in your office, there's not much danger of it blowing up, but the vacuum pumps would be pretty loud.

      Intergalactic space is about 2 or 3 Kelvin. Getting down to 100 times colder than that - 20 or 30 millikelvin - requires a Helium 3 dilution fridge. Helium 3 is a rare (and expensive) helium isotope. Physics labs can afford this sort of equipment, but we're not going to be using the setup for gaming anytime soon.

      Not to mention, the vacuum pumps, the cold trap and the helium storage system would probably take up most of the space in your cubicle anyway.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rennerik (1256370)

        If you did have it in your office, there's not much danger of it blowing up, but the vacuum pumps would be pretty loud. ...

        Not to mention, the vacuum pumps, the cold trap and the helium storage system would probably take up most of the space in your cubicle anyway.

        They're not talking about cooling your computer that way, but about creating the transistors that way. There's nothing in the article that says that they have to be continuously kept at that temperature.

        I'm pretty sure once it's done, it's done.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by rossdee (243626)

      "temperature about 100 times colder than intergalactic space"

      How can you have something that is 100 times colder than space. I think that space runs at about -270 C, so to be 100 times colder it would have to be -2700 C. I thought absolute zero was -273.15 C at which point all movement is stopped, so how do you get a temperature below that?

  • Hm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andr T. (1006215) <andretaff&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:00PM (#25475925)

    The researchers call the new state of matter 'a quasi-three-dimensional electron crystal.' It was discovered using a device cooled to a temperature about 100 times colder than intergalactic space, following the application of the most powerful continuous magnetic field on Earth.

    I don't know why, but I think this will take a while to get to my local PC store.

  • Oh no you didn't (Score:5, Informative)

    by yttrstein (891553) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:01PM (#25475935) Homepage
    Extend it? I trust you mean CONFIRM IT YET AGAIN!

    Thought so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nbert (785663)
      Exactly. I just expect the development of new materials to follow Moore's Law. It's the weird hippy cousin of 5 year plans...
    • Re:Oh no you didn't (Score:5, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:15PM (#25476103) Homepage Journal

      Neither, Moore's law doesn't apply to this..but that would of course require an understanding of Moore's law. The cost of putting more transistors has started going up, thus ending Moore's law.
      Unless a fab breakthrough happens. A big one.

      Could some other material come up to allow faster processors? you bet, but that wouldn't be Moore's law now, would it?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The cost of putting more transistors has started going up, thus ending Moore's law.

        Only if the price remains constant.

        Moore's Law could well continue, as these things get cheaper and cheaper to build, and thus we have more and more cores for the same price.

        That wouldn't be the "extension of Moore's law" that lets you ignore the issue of concurrency and just keep throwing more cycles at the problem, but it would be entirely within Moore's law.

  • No, it won't (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:11PM (#25476065) Homepage Journal

    Moore's law is about manufacturing on silicon
    If it isn't silicon, then it isn't Moore's law.
    remember kids, increasing processor speed is a by product of Moore's law/ Moore's law is about cost of manufacturing.

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by sdsucks (1161899) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:13PM (#25476083)
    How cold is that in libraries of congresses?
  • ... "...It was discovered using a device cooled to a temperature about 100 times colder than intergalactic space, following the application of the most powerful continuous magnetic field on Earth."

    What does this mean? Give us a temperature. At least that would be concrete.

    According to wikipedia, intergalactic space is 2.71 Kelvin. I would assume that they mean "100th the temperature of intergalactic space", not "100 times colder than intergalactic space", as the latter is nonsensical and implies that it exists at 100 times colder than intergalactic space is colder than room temperature, meaning -28834 Kelvin (293 - 100 * (293 - 2.73) where we assume that room temperature is 20 degrees centigrade). T

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      meh.

    • by againjj (1132651) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:54PM (#25476557)

      According to wikipedia, intergalactic space is 2.71 Kelvin. I would assume that they mean "100th the temperature of intergalactic space", not "100 times colder than intergalactic space", as the latter is nonsensical and implies that it exists at 100 times colder than intergalactic space is colder than room temperature, meaning -28834 Kelvin (293 - 100 * (293 - 2.73) where we assume that room temperature is 20 degrees centigrade). This is nonsense.

      I don't see a problem with "100 times colder than intergalactic space". Temperature is an absolute scale, like size. It's like saying that item X is "100 times smaller than a coin". You don't then compare the size of the coin (say, 0.01m) to the room (say 3m) and then complain that item X is not of size -296 (3 - 100 * (3 - 0.01)).

    • by jd (1658)
      They do mean 100 times colder! By being below absolute zero, distances and therefore time becomes negative. With sufficient negativity, they can produce a Pentium that'll give you the wrong answer before you provide it with the data!
    • by AstrumPreliator (708436) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:31PM (#25477713)
      So when someone says "X is 100 times larger than Y" you instinctively think "X=100*Y", yet when someone says "X is 100 times smaller than Y" you instinctively think "X=Z-100*(Z-Y)" for some arbitrary Z of same unit as Y. Forgive me for not following your erm... logic.

      Let's say I have a temperature which is 100 times larger than 27.1 mK, this would be 2.71 K. Indeed 27.1 mK is smaller than 2.71 K and 2.71 K is larger than 27.1 mK. So saying 100 times smaller than 2.71 K should indicate I mean 27.1 mK. In no way is this nonsensical and I'm pretty sure everyone here understands that "X is N times smaller than Y" means multiply Y by the reciprocal of N, similarly "X is N times larger than Y" means multiply Y by N.

      Granted this isn't something you'd see in technical writing, but I'm pretty sure Information Week isn't a technical journal, so why be a pedant about it?
  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:18PM (#25476137)

    was discovered using a device cooled to a temperature about 100 times colder than intergalactic space

    My ex-girlfriend?

  • Longer Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by againjj (1132651) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:18PM (#25476145)
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:26PM (#25476235) Homepage

    Now gimme mah memristors! [wikipedia.org]

  • Moore's Law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cavePrisoner (1184997) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:27PM (#25476247)
    Wait, so somebody discovered a whole new state of matter, and all we have to say is it could extend Moore's Law? I would hope the implications would be just a tad bit more grand for such a discovery than possibly validating somebody's metric for a little while.
  • 100 times colder? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:27PM (#25476249) Homepage
    100 times colder than 0 K? So, that's what, 0 K? Why not make it 1000 times colder?

    (Yes I know space is slightly warmer than absolute zero, but it's still a really weird claim to make - we are only talking about a couple of degrees here)

    Also, am I the only one who, upon hearing "discovered a new state of matter", doesn't immediately think "Sweet, we can extends Moore's Law!", but rather "Holy shit, a new state of matter?" Seems like a pretty big discovering on its own, even without being tied to chip manufacturing...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Yarhj (1305397)
      The average temperature out in space is around 3K. Now, three measly degrees may not seem like a lot, but there's a world of difference between 3K and 0K. I'm sure we would all agree that a temperature of 300K is one-hundred times greater than 3K -- likewise, 0.003K is one hundred times smaller than 3K. There are many exotic physical effects which manifest in the millikelvin regime, but I find it unlikely that you'll be playing Team Fortress 10 on your three-dimensional electron crystal computer. More likel
    • by againjj (1132651)

      100 times colder than 0 K? So, that's what, 0 K? Why not make it 1000 times colder?

      100 times colder than 3 K. So, that's what, 0.03 K?

      (Yes I know space is slightly warmer than absolute zero, but it's still a really weird claim to make - we are only talking about a couple of degrees here)

      If you knew that it was above 0 K, you shouldn't say 0 K. And it is not weird -- these are normal operating temperatures of some really cool physics work. And the reason we talk about 100x vs. 1000x is that the difference between 100x and 1000x is a good chunk of change.

  • by Repton (60818) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:27PM (#25476251) Homepage

    [Scientist 1] A new state of matter! This is AWESOME!

    [Scientist 2] Yeah, but it's bloody expensive making the stuff. How can we bring in more funding?

    [Scientist 1] Umm ... Something to do with terrorism? Err ...

    [Scientist 2] ...energy crisis? Can we do anything with oil? ...

    [Scientist 1] ...what about computers? Could you make smaller transistors with this stuff?

    [Scientist 2] Yeah, it might fly. Let's run with that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      [Scientist 1] What? It doesn't fly

      [Scientist 2] What I meant was..

      [Scientist 3] But look at it's plumage!
      and so on.

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@NospAm.keirstead.org> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:28PM (#25476261) Homepage
    From comments in TFA:

    The researcher, Dr. Guillaume Gervais, is director of McGill University's Ultra-Low Temperature Condensed Matter Experiment Lab. There's nothing in the journal letter about "a new state of matter". The McGill Newsroom article quotes him as saying to the interviewer, "It's actually not quite 3-D, it's an in-between state, a totally new phenomenon" as compared with the 2-D electron crystals that transistors and IC chips are made of. The interviewer, or an editor, thought "Physics -- state -- new state of matter". Engadget's Melanson picked up the error and passed it on uncritically.
    • I looked it up because it caught my eye.
      So they fill a paper cup, then dump it into you travel mug(yeah you) then toss the cup?

      Hmm. I understand why they can't use your mug for the creation of the drink, but I wonder why they just don't use a ceramic cup for the preparation.

  • by xactuary (746078) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:38PM (#25476385)
    We Bokononists prefer to call it Ice-nine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokononism [wikipedia.org]
  • Why would we want to extend Moore's law? I mean, why merely double the number of transistors every 18 months (or however it goes)? Why not increase the number of transistors by a factor of five, or ten in a single year? It seems stupid to me to limit yourself.
  • by mschuyler (197441) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:51PM (#25476503) Homepage Journal

    Since there are already numerous posts invoking the applicability (or not) of Moore's Law, I thought I would start over. Although Gordon Moore certainly formulated his law based on silicon (original is here: http://www.intel.com/technology/mooreslaw/ [intel.com].) it can be applied clear back to 1890 with the Hollerith 'computer' that tabulated the 1890 census. When you graph it out, Moore's Law applies to electro-mechanical switches, then to relays, then to vacuum tubes, then transistors themselves (like in a six transistor radio of the 50's), then on to silicon. It's still the same exponential curve, in five separate states, only the last one of which is silicon. Kurzweil discusses this in depth here: http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1 [kurzweilai.net]. People who claim Moore's Law doesn't apply because this isn't traditional silicon acreage are missing the point, which is that not only is Moore's Law more encompassing than the originally envisioned, it is not going away any time soon. The imminent death of Moore's Law, as always, has been greatly exaggerated.

  • If it doesn't go onto a desktop chip, I am not sure Moore's law is being extended by this theoretical application.

  • by daveime (1253762) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:05PM (#25477141)
    You know, we *can* understand Kelvin ... or can we expect the next comparison as "1000 times colder than a polar bear's left testicle".
  • by Nick12534 (808725) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @10:06PM (#25477929)
    Intergalactic space is not at 2.7 K. Especially in galaxy clusters, the temperature of the intergalactic medium is often millions of degrees Kelvin. Even in more remote places far from galaxy clusters, it's still much warmer than 2.7 K. The 2.7 K figure is the temperature associated with the cosmic microwave background radiation, not the intergalactic medium.
  • by marcushnk (90744) <senectus.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @11:11PM (#25478299) Journal

    The sub prime state... You can pay for it and sell it but when you look at it hard enough it's not really there...

  • by gumpish (682245) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @08:17AM (#25480859) Journal

    Here's the problem... when you say things like "x times SMALLER than" and "x times COLDER than" people think "oh, something TIMES something... I have to multiply."

    But with diminishing comparisons (smaller, colder, etc) you're actually multiplying by a decimal, which most people regard as DIVISION.

    Worse, when you say something like "100 times colder than" people think not just "I have to multiply" but rather "I have to multiply something by 100".

    Let's save everyone a headache and if you want to make a comparison, use the most explicit form possible. In this case, "1/100th the temperature of intergalactic space" (or just give us the damn Kelvins).

    To paraphrase an AC's earlier post:

    Temperature is a quantity.

    "Coldness" is not.

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Working...