Monday, October 10, 2005

Nanotubes refine computer memory

news @ Manufacturers gear up to mass-produce unconventional chips.

"Will computers that require no time to boot up become a reality? One company thinks the answer is yes, thanks to its carbon nanotube memory chips.

Nantero presented its achievement at the Emerging Technologies Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It uses rolled-up tubes of carbon to make transistors, the on-off switches that carry digital information inside computing chips: strings of the nanotubes move up and down to represent the ones and zeroes of binary code. Unlike the electrons in normal electrical transistors, these nanotubes stay in place even when a computer is turned off.

Nantero, based in Woburn, Massachusetts, has been working on the idea for years. Now they say they have made ground in the manufacturing process, pushing the chips closer to market.

The company has succeeded in making circular wafers, 13 centimetres in diameter, that hold 10 gigabits of data. These much bigger than equivalent memory cards used today. But Greg Schmergel, chief executive officer of Nantero, says the nanotube chips are ten times faster than 'flash' cards, which are some of the swiftest ones now available."