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Eliminating the nanowires
Devices that communicate with each other without wires are everywhere.
But the National Science Foundation in the United States wants more: the idea is that the inner blocks of processors, chips and generally start to communicate by radio waves, eliminating the internal wiring of the chip.
The biggest gains will be the possibility of miniaturization of chips and even more, especially the reduction of heat generated by the transit of electrons inside.
“More or less as with the human gut, wired interconnections are very long, despite the possibility of its condensation into a small space. The total volume of connections needed to make a functional chip requires a very large area,” explains Baris Taskin Professor, Drexel University, in charge of building the wireless chip along with his colleague Kapil Dandekar.
Wireless network on chip
The team has already developed the project of a “network within a chip” that uses both satellite and wired interconnections, increasing the speed of communication and allowing the chip to be used in new and more sophisticated platforms.
“A hybrid chip that uses connections both with and without wires, resulting in a more robust platform,” said Taskin. “The inter-connection wires can be used as dedicated communication lines between the areas that are constantly changing data. And antennas can eliminate a number of interconnections between the wired communication routes less used inside the chip.”
One of the key elements to enable the transformation of this design in an actual chip is a reconfigurable antenna technology, created by Dandekar.
The use of radio frequencies for the data transmission has an advantage over other techniques wireless planned for the next generation microchip, since radio waves can travel through solids.
But also trips the same difficulties encountered in the design of other communication networks: where to put the antennas, which transmit frequency to be used to avoid interference, and how to get the highest bandwidth possible, so that the network does not become a bottleneck for the data within the processor.
The researchers, however, say that is worth addressing these challenges, since the wireless network on-chip can be readily used in the 3D chip.
They expect to have its first working prototypes within five years.
Another alternative for the same problem are the photonic processors , which exchange data with light instead of electricity. They may be much faster, but not necessarily have a data traffic system simpler.