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Breaking Moore's Law: How Chipmakers Are Pushing Pcs to Blistering New Levels

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A printed circuit board.

Despite Moore's Law, chipmakers continue to work to increase the speed and power of personal computers.

Credit: PC World

Chipmakers are fervently engaged in projects to greatly accelerate personal computer speed and power despite coming up against the limits of Moore's Law.

Intel has kept pace with Moore's Law, maintaining progress by changing transistor designs over the past 10 years. It began with Intel's switch to strained silicon, which boosted chip performance by 10 percent to 20 percent, and continued with replacing the transistors' silicon dioxide insulators with more efficient high-k metal gate insulators as the company migrated to 45-nm manufacturing; following that was the move to tri-gate transistor technology. Intel's Chuck Mulloy notes these various technologies have staying power through continued improvement.

Meanwhile, AMD is focusing on easing the central processing units' workload by shifting some of their labors to other processors that might be more appropriate for specific tasks, such as graphics processors. AMD has been slowly moving toward a heterogeneous system architecture in its accelerated processing units.

Meanwhile, chipmakers are seeking materials to eventually replace silicon, with OPEL Technologies concentrating on gallium arsenide. OPEL says its technology overlaps to a significant degree with current silicon manufacturing methods, thanks to properties that include scalability.

From PC World
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