Saturday, January 14, 2006

Magnetic logic gates

Well, the following is a surprise. Current integrated circuits (ICs) use transistors (bipolar and MOS) to form various logic gates--AND, OR, NAND, NOR--the basic building blocks of microprocessors and microcontrollers. But now engineers have successfully created nanoscale magnets that can be fashioned into logic gates.
Imre’s team have made a universal logic gate called a majority inverter. From this they can make any other type of logic gate needed for a circuit, including two critical logic gates known as NAND and NOR gates. All possible logic circuits can be made with these.

And because the gates are based on magnets they can be switched from one to another easily, allowing processors built from nanomagnets to be reprogrammed to do different jobs while they are in use, says the team.

Simulations show processing speeds of at least 100 megahertz should be possible using magnets 110 nanometres wide – with smaller ones expected to do much better. Consumer computer processors function at 2 or 3 gigahertz.
The part about reprogrammability is most interesting.

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