CPUs could use 85% fewer transistors with new adaptive technology
The transistor was developed by a team of researchers from the Vienna University of Technology. This was achieved by tapping into Germanium. The team developed a novel adaptive transistor design that can change its configuration based on workload demands. This new breakthrough can enable the use of up to 85% fewer transistors than current approaches. Having fewer transistors working for the same work, power consumption and temperatures are reduced, which in turn allows for higher scaling and higher frequency performance of the transistor.
This technology will not only change the way computer chips of the future will be designed, but these new adaptive transistors will also open up new possibilities in AI, neural networks, and even logic that works with values other than zero and one.
While these adaptive transistors have enormous potential, one of the researchers behind the project, Dr. Masiar Sistani, explained in the journal ACS Nano that they do not intend to replace the existing technology of silicon-based transistors, but rather to increase it. “We don’t want to completely replace the well-established silicon-based transistor technology with our new transistor, that would be presumptuous. The new technology is more likely to be integrated into computer chips as an add-on in the future. For some applications, it will simply be more energy efficient and convenient to rely on adaptive transistors,” said Dr. Masiar Sistani while explaining the new technology.
“We connect two electrodes with extremely thin germanium wire, via extremely clean high quality interfaces, above the germanium segment we place a gate electrode like those found in conventional transistors. What is decisive is that our transistor has another control electrode placed on the interfaces between the germanium and the metal. It can dynamically program the function of the transistor,” explained Dr. Masiar Sistani.
“Arithmetic operations, which previously required 160 transistors, are now possible with 24 transistors thanks to this increased adaptability. In this way, the speed and energy efficiency of the circuits can also be significantly increased,” explained Professor Walter Weber, another member of the team.
Dr. Sistani further explained: “This is because germanium has a very special electronic structure: when you apply a voltage, the current flow increases initially, as you would expect. After a certain threshold, however, the current flow decreases again – this is called negative differential resistance. Using the control electrode, we can modulate the voltage at which this threshold is located. This translates into new degrees of freedom that we can use to give the transistor exactly the properties we need at the moment.