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Graphene Gains on Silicon's Heels

Silicon, the single element most associated with electronics, may have some new competition. Known as graphene, the one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms has some not-insignificant physical properties that make it suitable for electronic purposes. However, unlike silicon, the electrons in graphene flow continuously, meaning that it can't be turned off to generate the 0s and 1s that are the foundation of computing.

With silicon, “Boolean logic” is used to process information by encoding and processing it as a series of 0s and 1s. When electrons are flowing, a computer records a 1, and when they are not flowing a 0 is recorded. Since silicon has the ability to turn electrons on or off, Boolean logic works well. However, Boolean logic does not work with graphene since the electrons flow continuously and are unable to stop.

Many researchers in the past have tried to modify graphene to help it surpass silicon in the electronics field, although their efforts have been futile. But researchers at the University of California-Riverside believe that they’ve found a solution to the problem once and for all.

“We decided to take an alternative approach,” said Alexander Balandin, Electrical Engineering Professor. “Instead of trying to change graphene, we changed the way the information is processed in the circuits.”

To tackle this problem, researchers from the University of California-Riverside decided to invent a new kind of logic that works with graphene. By manipulating voltage, it doesn’t matter if the electrons are turned on or off. The change in voltage indicates different values instead of flowing or non-flowing electrons.

The researchers were able to show that their system worked at both the microscopic and nanometer scales.

If the switch to graphene takes off, it could be very beneficial in many areas, one in particular being the usage of transistors—perhaps the single component that's most restricted by Moore's Law. By using graphene, the transistors could be made only an atom wide, which equates to more transistors and more computing power.

Since Boolean logic is used in many of the computing applications that we use on a day-to-day basis, the switch to using the new logic may be a difficult one. However, research is being done to see how graphene can be used in other areas. So one way or another, it may very well become a part of manufacturers' future.

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Feature Articles

Lighting a Fire Under Combustion Simulation

Combustion simulation might seem like the ultimate in esoteric technologies, but auto companies, aircraft firms and fuel designers need increasingly sophisticated software to serve the needs of 21st century engine designs. HPCwire recently got the opportunity to take a look at Reaction Design, one of the premier makers of combustion simulation software, and talk with its CEO, Bernie Rosenthal.

D-Wave Sells First Quantum Computer

On Wednesday, D-Wave Systems made history by announcing the sale of the world's first commercial quantum computer. The buyer was Lockheed Martin Corporation, who will use the machine to help solve some of their "most challenging computation problems." D-Wave co-founder and CTO Geordie Rose talks about the new system and the underlying technology.

NVIDIA Revs Up Tesla GPU

GPU maker NVIDIA has ratcheted up the core count and clock speed on its Tesla GPU processor. The new M2090 module for servers delivers 665 double precision gigaflops, representing close to a 30 percent increase over the previous generation Tesla part. The memory bandwidth on the device was bumped up as well, from 150 GB/second to 178 GB/second. The new GPU boosts performance significantly across a number of HPC codes.

Short Takes

Advanced Modeling Benefits Wind Farms

May 25, 2011 | Advanced computing resources optimize the site selection of wind farms.

Not Your Parents' CFD

Oct 13, 2010 | Outdated beliefs stand in the way of greater CFD adoption.

Manufacturers Turn to HPC to Cut Testing Costs

Oct 06, 2010 | Supercomputing saves money by reducing the need for physical testing.

HPC Technology Makes Car Safety Job 1

Aug 05, 2010 | Automakers turn to computer simulations to design safer vehicles.

UTC SimCenter Called ‘Gold Mine’ for Local Economy

Jul 14, 2010 | University research center could become economic catalyst for Chattanooga.

Sponsored Whitepapers

Technical Computing for a New Era

07/30/2013 | IBM | This white paper examines various means of adapting technical computing tools to accelerate product and services innovation across a range of commercial industries such as manufacturing, financial services, energy, healthcare, entertainment and retail. No longer is technically advanced computing limited to the confines of big government labs and academic centers. Today it is available to a wide range of organizations seeking a competitive edge.

The UberCloud HPC Experiment: Compendium of Case Studies

06/25/2013 | Intel | The UberCloud HPC Experiment has achieved the volunteer participation of 500 organizations and individuals from 48 countries with the aim of exploring the end-to-end process employed by digital manufacturing engineers to access and use remote computing resources in HPC centers and in the cloud. This Compendium of 25 case studies is an invaluable resource for engineers, managers and executives who believe in the strategic importance of applying advanced technologies to help drive their organization’s productivity to perceptible new levels.

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