– Nanotechnology in Computers
Nanotechnology ushers in a more meaningful and useful age of miniaturization. The Integrated Chip of the 70s did the same thing that was seminal in manufacturing increasingly smaller chips that now power our cellphones and computers. But they have their limits and we have reached that.
With molecule-sized nanotech based manufacturing of processor chips, memory modules and storage devices, these limits can be breached that will eventually bring two things: (1) more powerful, more cost-effective and more power-efficient computers across all platforms, from mainframes down to laptops; and (2) smaller computer footprints for the same power and efficiencies we currently have.
– Nanotech Microprocessors
With greater transistor densities, processor chips these days have grown so powerful that they require more effective cooling systems employing fans and even water-based coolants usually reserved in mainframes. Lithographic technologies that create those wafer thin circuits containing millions of etched transistors have reached practical limits. Nanotechnology’s molecular-level lithography is the next step. Not only will it produce more powerful computer engines, it can make them operate cooler and with less bulk. Associated circuits in the motherboards and even add-on daughterboards like video graphics and sound processors can be integrated into smaller boards so that computers over the next decade can be no larger than the largest cell phones of today.
Memory modules in the 1GB to 2GB range are becoming common these days. Even cellphones have memories in that magnitude. But just like processor chips, you have a manufacturing limit to contend with which bears down on the maximum speed, size and powering efficiency of memory chips. Over the next few years, more powerful RAM with higher capacities and speeds but lower costs can be made from nonmagnetic technology.
– Solid State “hard drives”
Disk drives have likewise reach the size and capacity limits. If you look at your flash drives now commonly sporting 4, 8 and 16 GB capacities, they are all solid state storage devices that hold the promise of greater storage capacities and efficiencies in computers.
They are also immune to physical shocks or mechanical crashes that hard disks are prone to suffer. But they are expensive to produce and have the highest costs per megabyte of memory compared with a 1Terrabyte hard disk we have at this time. Nanotechnology should take care of that. Expect nanotech-based flash drive technology to evolve with higher memory capacity that will eventually make it more cost effective to replace current electro-mechanical hard drives.