Yesterday Hewlett-Packard reported they may have the successor to the transistor working in their labs.
… its researchers have proven that a technology they invented could eventually replace the transistor, a fundamental building block of computers.
In a paper published in Tuesday’s Journal of Applied Physics, HP said three members of its Quantum Science Research group propose and demonstrate a “crossbar latch,” which provides the signal restoration and inversion required for general computing without the need for transistors.
Palo Alto, California-based HP said that the technology could result in computers that are thousands of times more powerful than those that exist today.
The crossbar latch — which Williams said was six to 10 years from widespread commercial use — could help to extend Moore’s Law, the 1965 observation by Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore that computing power doubles roughly every 18 months as production costs fall by about half.
I remember back in the late 70’s researchers were doing work with Josephon Junctions and were making all kinds of claims about how they were going to be the next big thing. That work was largely abandoned (but interest has picked up again). I’ve wondered about Moore’s Law for a while. There are physical limits to the size of our current technology and it was the constant reduction in size of the junctions that allowed us to build faster and faster computers. The physics represented a “brick wall” that we were going to hit in the not too distant future. My confidence in the free market and technology said we would find a way around it but the wall was looming larger and larger. Maybe the “crossbar latch” is that path.