“Within a decade, IBM Corp. expects to make microchips that will be able to change their own physical configuration, adding memory or removing unneeded bits of circuitry on the fly to optimize performance,” AP reports. “The morphing chips were disclosed Wednesday as IBM revealed wide-ranging plans for the company’s current generation of processors, the Power5.”
“Big Blue hopes to work with outside technology developers to make Power chips a flexible, widely used driver of several kinds of computing systems, from high-end corporate servers to video game consoles and handheld devices. Microprocessors have gotten ever faster by cramming more and more transistors onboard, but physical limitations of chip materials are making it harder to shrink the dimensions much further. So instead of continually relying on improvements in chip speed, next-generation chips will have to cleverly combine more computing functions, said Bernard Meyerson, IBM’s chief technologist,” AP reports.
“The self-altering chip is one way of achieving that. Here’s how it would work: Continually running electrical current through a tiny circuit can cause its materials to erode, as individual atoms get stripped and dragged away by the electricity. Eventually the metal breaks,” AP reports. “Chip designers got around the problem by carefully choosing a blend of metals. Now, Meyerson said, IBM has developed a way to make the metal erosion happen at will _ when software running the chip determines that part of the circuitry needs cutting or tuning. ‘It’s a bit frightening to the typical designer,’ Meyerson said.”
The basis for the G5 in Apple’s Power Mac line is IBM’s Power4. No mention was made of Apple during the Power5 presentation.
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