Engineers at EPFL have created a computer chip which will both process & store data in the same circuit. It’s made employing a 2 dimensional material called molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), paving the way for smaller & more energy efficient electronics.
Traditional computers process data in one area, the CPU, then pass it off to other section like a tough disk or solid-state drive for storage. This technique has worked for us for decades, but it’s not necessarily the most efficient method to do things.
For instance, in the brain, the most powerful computer in the world, neurons have the power to both process & store information. In recent years, engineers have tried to mimic this functionality, creating chips with logic in memory architecture, sometimes referred to as “memristors.” The idea is without the necessity to shuttle data around a lot, we could make smaller & faster devices that chew less energy.
The EPFL study takes few new steps towards that goal. The team’s new logic in memory chip is the first to be made with a 2D material, comprising a layer of MoS2 only just 3 atoms thick. Not only this material’s ultra-thinness perfect for shrinking devices down but it makes an excellent semiconductor also.
The new chip is what’s referred to as a Floating Gate FET (FGFET). Usually utilized in non-volatile storage systems like SD cards, these transistors are good at retaining electric charges for long periods of time. MoS2 is especially sensitive to these stored charges, allowing it to perform both logic & memory functions.
“Our circuit design has several advantages” says Andras Kis, lead author of the study. “It can reduce the energy loss related to transferring data between memory units & processors, cut the quantity of time needed for computing operations & shrink the quantity of space required. That opens the door to devices that are smaller, more powerful & more energy efficient.”