Researchers Pave Way For Terahertz Computing Chips Using Optic Technology

Optic Technology

It was a pretty big deal when mainstream computer processors broke the gigahertz barrier, and now nearly a decade later, we routinely measure CPU speed in GHz, not megahertz alone. Now if only we could break the 5GHz barrier and beyond, right? Well forget that—after three years of research, eggheads (and we mean that endearingly) at Hebrew University of Jerusalem say they've created a technology that will pave the way for terahertz processors.

You read that right, they're touting TERAHERTZ technology, which is 1,000GHz, or 1,000,000MHz. Try wrapping your head around that one, if you can, and imagine that computing possibilities that would entail. It sounds like a remarkable claim, given that heat and scalability are the major factors that stand in the way of insanely fast processing, among other engineering challenges.

Nevertheless, physicist Dr. Uriel Levy and his team think they have things figured out. In a paper published in Laser & Photonics Reviews, Dr. Levy and HU emeritus professor Joseph Shappir outline a proof-of-concept utilizing fiber optic technology that integrates the speed of optic (light) communications, and does so while maintaining the reliability and scalability of electronics in general.

We tend to associate fiber optic technology with high-speed Internet connectivity, as that is what Google and others have used to deploy 1Gbps speeds to homes and businesses (among other things). Optics is extremely fast, but in microchips, it's just not reliable, especially when dealing with mass production. Dr. Levy, Shappir, and the gang think they have things figured out.

Their solution is to use a metal-oxide-nitride-oxide-silicon (MONOS) structure to create a new integrated circuit, using flash memory technology. The successful implementation of this method would allow 8-16GHz computers to run 100 times faster.

"This discovery could help fill the THz gap and create new and more powerful wireless devices that could transmit data at significantly higher speeds than currently possible. In the world of high-tech advances, this is a game changing technology," Dr. Levy said.

To be clear, the technology doesn't apply to directly to processors that we use in home computers, game consoles, and the such. Instead, it is focused on chips that power wireless communication devices. Still, this sort of thing has a way of spilling into other categories. Either way, this is impressive stuff, if the researchers can pull it off.