Superconducting processors get some competition?

EPFL and ETH (Switzerland) are undertaking a four year project named CMOSAIC with the goal of extending Moore’s law into the third dimension:

The project page is here

And here’s an IBM write-up of the effort

Also see here for a nice schematic of the device

“Unlike current processors, the CMOSAIC project considers a 3D stack-architecture of multiple cores with a interconnect density from 100 to 10,000 connections per millimeter square. Researchers believe that these tiny connections and the use of hair-thin, liquid cooling microchannels measuring only 50 microns in diameter between the active chips are the missing links to achieving high-performance computing with future 3D chip stacks.”

Just my personal opinion of course… but…. this seems like a case of fixing the symptoms rather than finding a cure. Will bringing a microfluidic angle into Moore’s law really help us out?

Why do we put up with this kind of heating problem in the first place? One could, for example, consider an alternative investment in the development of reversible, low disspation superconducting electronics.

I guess the project will be interesting just from a point of view of 3D manufacturing and incorporation of fluidics into microchips – this kind of technology could be indispensable for progress in areas such as lab-on-a-chip technology. But as far as raw processing power goes, this approach seems a bit like ignoring the elephant in the room.

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4 thoughts on “Superconducting processors get some competition?

  1. rrtucci says:

    “Researchers believe that these tiny connections and the use of hair-thin, liquid cooling microchannels measuring only 50 microns in diameter between the active chips are the missing links to achieving high-performance computing with future 3D chip stacks.’

    That is the most ridiculous, error prone thing thing I’ve heard in a long time. What are the chances of those channels clogging up in a fortnight. Like 100%, I venture to guess.

  2. rrtucci says:

    And I suspect once one channel clogs up, the local heat spot will cause all nearby channels to fuse and get plugged, and the effect will cause an avalanche breakdown

  3. dark_daedalus says:

    @rtucci :

    You can avoid clogging pretty easily.

    You seal the unit and recycle the internal cooling fluid with a heat exchanger through the casing and a filter trap for any residual particulate or ingress.

    If you want an example of this idea already, try a modern HDD.

    Though the point that we should be developing new technologies such as asynchronous, reversible, superconducting, quantum and nanoscale processing is perfectly valid, but it is not an either-OR, this will help increase density in the interim.

    • physicsandcake says:

      Hmm, I’m not convinced it isn’t an either-OR, as there is a limited amount of money you can get from agencies to create entirely new industries for these things (at least in the short term), as they cost billions to set up properly. One technology will therefore win out over the other and be funded ‘all the way’…

      But I’m cynical about this

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