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A group of scientists look at a natural means to keep up with Moore's Law

Moore's Law has driven integrated circuit manufacturers to continuously pack more and more transistors onto a microchip.  Intel and AMD both estimate we'll see 32nm processors this year; memory manufacturers already boast 22nm NAND structure.

Ultimately photolithography will no longer be able to produce smaller nodes as the limit of visible light resolution is reached. Even with high-k metal transistor gates, which help control current leakage considerably, some estimate the lowest size physically possible will be around 11nm.

A group of scientists led by Michael Sussman, director of University of Wisconsin, Madison's Biotechnology Center, and oceanography professor Virginia Armbrust of the University of Washington claims the possibility of a new biological means of producing even smaller chips with the helping hand of diatoms. 

Diatoms are eukaryotic, or unicellular algae. One feature that sets them apart from typical phytoplankton is their custom-built cell walls which they create from silicon dioxide, or silica. Sussman's interest lies in that diatoms are capable of creating lines of silica much smaller than present chip manufacturing processes can make out of silicon.

The particular diatom Sussman and Armbrust's group have been working with is known as Thalassiosira pseudonana. Armbrust previously led the effort to sequence T. pseudonana's genome in 2004. The group has identified 75 genes that are used in the silica bioprocess for the diatoms and they hope to use genetic manipulation to find out what they can do with the microscopic organism in the guise of a chip builder.

Not just an organism sitting on the verge of a possible breakthrough in chip manufacturing, diatoms are responsible for a large part of the Earth's carbon cycle. Diatoms, which dwell in water and damp soil, are estimated to soak around 20% of the total carbon dioxide removed from air yearly -- a number very close to what all of Earth's rainforests together are figured for.



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'Much smaller' is a little vague
By NicePants42 on 1/24/2008 3:18:39 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
...diatoms are capable of creating lines of silica much smaller than present chip manufacturing processes can make out of silicon.
'Current chip manufacturing processes' are right around 45nm, per Intel's latest release. 11nm (the article's suggested physical limit for photolithography) could be said to be 'much smaller' than that, so an important piece of information might be exactly how small these lines of silica can get.

Some information regarding how we're supposed to make these little guys build their silica in the right form might be interesting too.




RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By Screwuhippie on 1/24/2008 3:31:09 PM , Rating: 3
Just offer them competative compensation packages and good quality health insurance and i'm sure they will work hard.


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By FITCamaro on 1/24/08, Rating: -1
RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By Fnoob on 1/24/08, Rating: -1
RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By jhinoz on 1/24/2008 6:37:40 PM , Rating: 4
pretty sure it will, unless the particular democrat is seen playing PS3 while logged into dailytech posting about the merits of linux v vista v leopard


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By bupkus on 1/24/2008 7:32:45 PM , Rating: 3
Now they'll blame the Democrats if the diatoms don't fall into line.


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By winterspan on 1/24/2008 11:00:40 PM , Rating: 3
Just had to throw in some political bullshit, huh?
I'm so sick of seeing your stupid ass posts always bringing up politics in everything. STFU you ignorant, backwards conservative moron.


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By Fnoob on 1/25/2008 8:49:41 PM , Rating: 2
Which naturally proves my point.


By Symmetriad on 1/25/2008 4:50:35 PM , Rating: 1
Can't you let go of the political trolling for half a second? It has nothing to do with this article, contributes nothing and is just plain obnoxious. I don't care if it's liberal, conservative or anywhere in-between, all of this political cheerleading knobbery is getting out of hand around here.


By feraltoad on 1/24/2008 4:37:32 PM , Rating: 5
It's about time they put those freeloading eukaryotes to work!


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By feraltoad on 1/24/08, Rating: -1
RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By murphyslabrat on 1/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By Fnoob on 1/25/2008 8:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, we're all going to hell now for watching that and laughing... thanks.


By ikkeman on 1/25/2008 11:58:20 AM , Rating: 1
yezz mazzter, woenderful


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By KingstonU on 1/24/2008 9:04:52 PM , Rating: 2
There was an article maybe a year ago, I think it was Daily Tech, that talked about how you can get viruses to make very small computer circuits. I tried but could not find it.

They described that the virus' outer walls were genetically engineered to attract ions, and so you put them into a solution with metal ions and the viruses naturally swim back and forth in lines, all the while attracting the ions which line up into tiny circuits.


By maverick85wd on 2/4/2008 1:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
are you sure you're not talking about the article where they use viruses to create batteries? That was I think 4 or 5 months ago but I remember reading that one.


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By sld on 1/25/2008 10:14:23 AM , Rating: 2
Nanoimprinting can go down to sub-20 nm feature sizes..


RE: 'Much smaller' is a little vague
By Fnoob on 1/25/2008 9:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
I was told 3+ years back that 9nm is feasible with pending lithography advances related to exposure methods.

Not that this link confirms that, this is still a good read:

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/192...

They were at 29.9nm in 2006...


By Creig on 1/25/2008 7:57:54 AM , Rating: 2
a computer technician or a biologist?




By codeThug on 1/25/2008 9:36:43 AM , Rating: 2
sponge bob


By Xenoterranos on 1/25/2008 10:35:35 AM , Rating: 2
If it was anyone, it'd be Sandy.


Relaxing!
By feraltoad on 1/24/2008 4:44:14 PM , Rating: 5
Hold this chip up to your ear, and you can hear the ocean.




Eh?
By masher2 (blog) on 1/24/2008 4:21:28 PM , Rating: 2
> "Intel and AMD both estimate we'll see 32nm processors this year;"

I thought Intel was scheduled for 2009 on the 32nm node. With AMD, pushing for a very late 2009 or early 2010 release.




RE: Eh?
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 1/24/2008 4:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
We'll definitely see working 32nm processors before the end of the year. Intel started pumping out working 45nm processors at the end of 2006.

2009 is still the launch schedule for 32nm though at Intel. AMD is around the same time. Some of the other guys, like Fujitsu, are usually a little further ahead in process technology -- but they are not doing as complex of designs.


don,t forget to feed the computer
By ikkeman on 1/25/2008 12:03:06 PM , Rating: 3
will I need to get my neigbour to feed the computer while I'm on holiday?

I have bad experiences with this... bubbles - I loved you




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