Future Technology

Multifunction Chips May Soon Replace Silicon for Supercomputers and Mobile Devices

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Say goodbye to the usual silicon computer chips as multifunction chips will potentially soon replace their spot. The new tech will revolutionize the chip industry by being able to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.

One Chip With Multiple Functions

The study published in Advanced Electronic Materials details how chip designers are exploring more outside the conventional silicon chips used in today’s computers. With single crystal complex oxide materials, scientists from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) were able to develop a promising foundation for the advancement of a single chip with multiple functions.

The said material was found to contain multiple tiny regions that respond to various electric and magnetic stimuli differently making it a multi-component electrical circuit. The mechanism behind it is called phase separation. This is when individual regions within a single material can be controlled in more than one way.

Zac Ward, a corresponding author of the study from ORNL, explains there exist a “coexisting pockets of different magnetic and/or electric behaviors” in just one of the single crystal complex oxide material. These phases, as stated by Ward, can be applied to function as circuit elements while a rewritable circuitry in the material can be created as well.

He adds they are not for “raw power,” but it is the forward-thinking view for electronics they are after. With that, the researchers probed more into pursuing “multifunctional architectures.” This, later on, led them to find the groundwork for the new types of computer chips for the future.

Future of Chip Industry

The phase separated materials opens the door for dropping the “one-chip-fits-all” approach. Ward says supercomputers, desktop computers, and smartphones have varying needs that are all forced into the conventional chip.

But with multifunction chips, they can function with each of their intended application which increases its performance as compared to the silicon ones. Moreover, the size and power needed for it would be cut down despite its complexities because of its multifunctional mechanism.


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