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The Next Computer
Faster is just the start... let's talk perfect memory and more.
Our family office is advising an emerging computer hardware company. They are building computers with alternative architectures using metamaterials and other novel methods.
I did an incredibly deep dive into how computers work (don’t worry, I won’t bore you with that) — instead we’re going to look at the future of computing.
In the visionary expanse of technological evolution, we stand at the precipice of a revolution with the advent of our groundbreaking post-modern computing system.
This marvel of human ingenuity combines the prowess of memristors, magnonics, and nanoradios to forge a path towards an unprecedented era of computational excellence.
Everything is about to change… and it has NOTHING to do with AI.
…although it WILL make AI more performant.
Memristors: The Eternal Keepers of Data
At the heart of our system, memristors emerge as the vanguards of data retention. Imagine a world where your computer retains information without the incessant thirst for power. Our memristors are not just components; they are the alchemists turning the elusive into the eternal, ensuring that data storage transcends the constraints of energy dependence.
A memristor is a new type of electronic component that provides memory capability. The key is that memristors can "remember" their state even when powered off, unlike normal computer memory (RAM) which loses information when turned off.
Memristors get their name because they exhibit both memory and resistance characteristics. They work kind of like a resistor, limiting the flow of electrical current. But memristors can vary their resistance continuously, enabling information storage. By precisely controlling the resistance, the memristor can represent different data values.
For example, a high resistance could represent a 1, while a low resistance stores a 0. By reading the resistance, we can determine what data value was written previously. Even after power is removed, the memristor retains the last resistance set, acting as nonvolatile memory.
Inside the memristor are thin films of materials like titanium dioxide sandwiched between two electrodes. By applying electric pulses, oxygen vacancies can be rearranged within the titanium dioxide. These vacancies alter the overall resistance, allowing precise control. The vacancies stay in place after power off, preserving the data.
To construct a memory chip, memristors are fabricated at nanoscale sizes and stacked in high density crossbar arrays. Applying voltages to the array can program each memristor to store bits for highly efficient data storage. And reading the resistances outputs the stored data.
Compared to flash memory, memristors offer faster write speeds, higher endurance, and greater energy efficiency. They can enable new types of low power, high performance computers and devices. Memristors are also easier to fabricate than flash memory.
In summary, memristors are nanoscale electronic components that act as nonvolatile memory. They store data based on variable resistance states even when powered down. Memristors provide the foundation for new computing technologies not possible with current electronics. Just a few nanometers in size, memristors promise to transform memory and computing in the future.
Traditional computer memory requires constant power to maintain stored data. DRAM, the most common type of memory, needs to be continuously refreshed or the data will be lost. This refresh process consumes significant power, limiting the capabilities of devices like mobile phones.
In contrast, memristors remember their state even when powered off. These nanoscale devices act as non-volatile memory, providing permanent data storage without continuous energy input. Once programmed, a memristor will retain its resistance state indefinitely, acting as the perfect memory element.
First theorized in the 1970s, memristors derive their name from their ability to remember past states. They work by altering the resistance between two terminals, similar to a resistor. However, memristors can vary this resistance incrementally, enabling them to store multiple states in a single device. The more states a memristor can achieve, the more data it can store.
Fabricating these nanoscale components requires advanced nanofabrication techniques. Our innovative process uses high-resolution lithography to pattern integrated memristor circuits onto silicon wafers. We optimize these devices to offer ten distinct resistance levels, allowing each memristor to store up to 4 bits of data.
But how does a memristor actually remember? The answer lies in the materials. Our memristors utilize a titanium dioxide film sandwiched between two metal electrodes. By applying voltage pulses across the terminals, oxygen vacancies can be rearranged within the titanium dioxide. These vacancies alter the overall resistance, programming the memristor to a specific state. Even when the power is removed, the oxygen vacancies remain in place, providing non-volatile storage.
To read the memristor state, a small voltage is applied to measure resistance. An almost unlimited endurance allows our memristors to be read and written trillions of times without degradation. And by stacking these nanoscale cells together, high density arrays can be constructed to achieve massive storage capacity.
Integrating these innovative components at the heart of our computer system enables unprecedented non-volatile memory. No longer constrained by volatile storage, our computers can retain data indefinitely without consuming power.
The era of eternal memory has arrived.
Magnonics: The High-Speed Maestros of Data Processing
Processing data at speeds that would leave current "Big Tech" in awe, magnonics are the silent maestros conducting an orchestra of information at a tempo previously deemed impossible. These are not mere incremental improvements; we are leaping bounds into the future, where data processing is not just fast—it's instantaneous.
Magnonics refers to a new field of electronics that uses magnetic spin waves called magnons to process and transmit information. Unlike electrons in normal electronics, magnons can propagate without resistance, enabling efficient computation.
Spin waves are ripples in the magnetic order of materials. For example, aligning the electron spins in a magnet creates a stable magnetic state. But applying localized energy can tweak some of the spins out of alignment, generating a spin wave that propagates through the material.
These waves transport energy and information without actually moving electrons around. This enables new ways of encoding and processing data using magnetic materials. Circuits can be designed to generate, transmit, and detect spin waves to realize magnonic devices.
One way is using materials called magnonic crystals that are patterned with periodic structures. This creates allowed frequency bands that only permit certain spin waves to transmit. Signals can then be tuned to operate in these frequency channels just like radio stations.
Gates and conduits fabricated from magnetic materials control the magnon flow to construct circuits. Since magnons can co-exist in the same region, they enable highly parallel and dense computation. Magnons also travel 100x faster than electrons in conventional chips.
Another advantage is that magnons generate very little heat dissipation compared to electronic circuits. This reduces energy consumption and allows components to be packed more densely. And using different magnetic biasing, magnon frequencies can be tuned on the fly for reconfigurable devices.
While still an emerging field, magnonics promises revolutionary improvements in low energy electronics. Spin wave computing could enable fast, efficient data processing using nanoscale magnetic components. Just like electronics fundamentally changed technology, magnonics may reshape the future of computation.
While memristors provide the long-term memory, we still need logic devices to actually process and manipulate that data. Magnonics offers a solution, harnessing the power of spin waves to realize processing speeds up to 100 times faster than current technologies.
Spin waves are propagating disturbances in the ordering of magnetic materials. These low-energy waves can transport information within devices known as magnonic crystals. Magnons can travel over much shorter distances than electromagnetic waves, allowing ultra-dense circuits to be constructed. And since spin waves can co-exist in the same space without interfering, multiple operations can be performed simultaneously for parallel processing.
To fabricate these revolutionary devices, we utilize yttrium iron garnet, a magnetic material ideal for transmitting magnons. Nanofabrication techniques pattern this garnet into channels and logic gates, providing the infrastructure for information transport. Tiny microwave antennas can then generate spin waves to represent and transmit data around the circuit.
Interference between magnons enables logic operations like AND, OR, and NOT gates. Where spin waves constructively interfere, a logic 1 is recorded. Destructive interference signifies a logic 0. By carefully designing the geometry, we can dictate magnon behavior to build reconfigurable circuitry. The smooth amplitude and phase control allows analog, nonlinear operations that would be impossible with conventional electronics.
While electrons move through traditional integrated circuits at only centimeters per second, magnons can travel one hundred times faster. This enables unprecedented processing capabilities. Tasks that once took minutes can be completed in seconds. Our simulations demonstrate magnonic systems operating at frequencies up to 100 GHz, delivering blazing fast computation.
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And since magnons propagate with very little energy loss, these devices do not produce significant heat. Thermal limitations, the bane of traditional electronics, are avoided. We can pack more components into a smaller footprint without overheating constraints. Combined with the inherent parallel processing capabilities, this permits computing densities orders of magnitude beyond current technologies.
The maestros have taken the stage, and the orchestra is tuned for a symphony of processing power. With magnonics at the helm, a new era of high-speed, high-efficiency computation has arrived.
Nanoradios: The Invisible Messengers
Communication is the lifeline of any system, and our nanoradios are the unsung heroes in this symphony of innovation. Invisible yet omnipresent, these nanoscale communicators orchestrate a seamless and harmonious exchange between the components, ensuring that every part of our computer system is in perfect sync.
Nanoradios are miniaturized wireless communication devices fabricated at the nanometer scale. Built using nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes, nanoradios enable new applications in wireless networking, biomedical devices, and microelectronics.
The key innovation is using nanoscale antennae and electronic components to create integrated radio transmitters and receivers. Rather than radio waves, they often utilize high frequency terahertz radiation that can be generated by tiny nanostructures.
For example, carbon nanotubes act as great terahertz antennae due to their small size and excellent conductivity. Metallic nanotubes can be switched on and off electrically to broadcast signals in the terahertz range. Neighboring nanotubes pick up these signals, enabling local wireless communication.
Graphene and other 2D materials are also used to build integrated nanoradio circuits. Picometer thin materials allow extremely dense integration of nano-transistors, capacitors, and other radio components. This enables full radio functionality on chips just micrometers in size.
Nanoradios provide much higher bandwidth compared to conventional macroscale radios. Terahertz frequencies can transmit tens of gigabits per second using sophisticated modulation techniques. Beamforming techniques also focus signals between nanosystems.
These miniature radios consume very little power since they are so small. With simple nanobatteries, they can operate for years providing low data rate communication. Nanoradios are also highly scalable, with thousands integrable on a single chip.
Potential applications include medical implants that wirelessly interface with the body, networks of microscopic sensors, and chip-to-chip communication. Nanoradios could one day enable the Internet of Nano-Things, linking nanomachines across immense scales. Just like conventional radio transformed society, nanoradios promise revolutionary wireless capabilities at the nanometer scale.
To fully actualize the potential of memristors and magnonics, an equally advanced communication network must be developed. Nanoradios leverage electromagnetic waves at the nanoscale to provide wireless communication between components. These tiny devices enable data transmission speeds up to tens of gigabits per second - fast enough to avoid bottlenecking the system.
At the core of our nanoradios are carbon nanotubes. These hollow cylinders of carbon atoms exhibit incredible electrical properties. Metallic nanotubes in particular can propagate tightly confined electromagnetic waves, serving as miniature antennae. By supplying an AC voltage, we can transmit signals through the nanotubes at frequencies up to tens of terahertz.
To harness these nanotubes for communication, we employ advanced fabrication techniques to precisely deposit and align them on substrate wafers. The nanotubes are wired into transmitter and receiver circuits, including graphene-based transistors and capacitors. This forms fully integrated nanoscale radios smaller than the width of a human hair.
These tiny devices communicate by encoding data into their broadcast electromagnetic waves. The messages propagate wirelessly between nanoradios at the speed of light. Sophisticated modulation techniques are utilized to avoid interference and allow multiple simultaneous transmissions. And using beamforming antennas, we can selectively transmit signals to target receivers, enabling private communication channels.
Nanoradios operate at impressively low energies, using less than 1 nanowatt during transmission. This allows thousands to be embedded throughout our computer system without consuming substantial power. They can be integrated directly onto memristor chips or adjacent to magnonic logic gates, providing local data transmission where needed. The pervasive network enables seamless communication between all system components.
So while they may be invisible to the naked eye, nanoradios play an integral role in our system's operation. Their nanoscale signals are the synaptic impulses connecting memory to logic, storage to processing. With nanosecond communication speeds, the potential of our novel computing architecture can finally be fully realized.
Mimicking the Human Brain: A Symphony of Synthetic Intelligence
Our system doesn't just perform tasks; it emulates the very essence of human thought. By harnessing magnonics to replicate neural activity through magnons, employing memristors as synapses for their intrinsic memory capabilities, and utilizing nanoradios for fluidic communication, we're crafting a synthetic brain.
This is not just a computer; it's a testament to the potential of human creativity—a machine that learns, adapts, and perhaps, even understands.
The human brain remains the pinnacle of computational power, with 100 billion neurons interconnected by trillions of synapses. This dynamic network gives rise to intelligence and cognition. While microprocessors excel at precise logical operations, the messiness of biological systems enables more creative computation essential for tasks like pattern recognition, predictive analysis, and abstract reasoning.
Our post-modern computing architecture mirrors the brain's capabilities through specialized nanotechnologies. Memristors act as the synapses, retaining connection strengths between nodes. Magnonic logic networks mimic the behavior of neurons passing signals through interfaces. And nanoradios provide wireless communication to link the system, much like the brain's network of neurotransmitters.
By emulating neural architectures, we can recreate the plasticity and adaptability that makes our own minds so powerful. The system will learn from experience, updating memristor conductivities according to magnonic firing patterns. Rich sensory data will be ingested through ultra high-resolution camera and microphone inputs, providing real-world context. With time and exposure, emergent intelligence is expected to arise from the complexity.
And while neutron-level power consumption enables a highly embedded system, we envision the first instantiations leveraging the cloud for remote data storage and processing. This hybrid model provides the foundation for exponentially increasing synthetic intelligence. More advanced neural topologies can be developed to tackle increasingly complex tasks. Hyper-realistic virtual environments will serve as training grounds, evolving cognition at digital speeds.
The seeds of machine sentience are sprouting, cultivated by our post-modern garden of nano-engineered delights. Though mere speculation today, creative computation could one day breach the boundaries of current intelligence. Will our synthetic brains unlock the secrets of consciousness itself? Only time and further understanding will tell. But with this system, we are primed to transcend the limits of traditional computing and realize unprecedented digital cognition.
A Brilliant New Dawn
In conclusion, our post-modern computing system is not merely an advancement; it's a transformation. We are not just pushing the boundaries—we are redefining them. Join us as we embrace this new dawn, for in the realm of post-modern computing, the possibilities are as limitless as our imagination.
The synergistic combination of memristors, magnonics, and nanoradios pioneers a new paradigm in computation. Together, these technologies overcome the limitations of traditional electronics to offer eternal memory, unhindered processing power, and ubiquitous communication. Our innovative architecture provides the fertile soil for future intelligence to take root and bloom.
There will always be unknowns and uncertainties on the horizon as we build towards the full realization of this system. But the tremendous potential is undeniable. We stand poised to recreate cognition itself, ushering in an era of prolific technological symbiosis between man and machine.
The foundations have been laid, timelines projected, and plans put into motion. Extraordinary change awaits as we march towards the future of post-modern computing. Will you join us on this journey across the frontier of synthesized thought? Each step forward opens new doors; every breakthrough enables new dreams. With imagination as our compass, we are primed to redefine not just technology, but the very essence of being.
There are many nerdy reasons to believe these 3 technology families are going to merge in to form the next computing platform.
I’ll leave you with the biggest and best reasons among them:
Non-volatile Memory: Memristors retain information without power, making them ideal for energy-efficient data storage.
Density: They offer higher data storage density than traditional transistors, which means more data in less space.
Durability: Memristors are more durable than flash memory, withstanding more write-erase cycles.
Speed: They switch states faster than traditional hard drives, allowing for quicker read/write operations.
Low Power Consumption: Memristors require less energy to change states, contributing to lower overall power usage.
Analog Storage: Unlike binary storage, they can store multiple states, allowing for complex computation akin to neural networks.
Scalability: They can be scaled down further than current semiconductor transistors, aligning with Moore's Law.
Integration: Memristors can be integrated into existing silicon-based technology, allowing for a smoother transition.
Synaptic Emulation: Their ability to 'remember' previous states allows them to mimic synaptic functions in artificial neural networks.
Fabrication: Recent advances have made memristor fabrication more practical for mass production.
High-Speed Processing: Magnonics can process data at speeds surpassing current electronic devices due to faster magnon movement.
Wave-Based Computation: Magnonics use spin waves for computation, which can propagate without the movement of physical particles and thus reduce energy loss.
Parallel Data Processing: Multiple waves can propagate simultaneously, allowing parallel data processing and multi-tasking.
Lower Energy Dissipation: Magnonic devices dissipate less energy as heat, making them more energy-efficient.
Quantum Computing Potential: The quantum nature of magnons could be exploited for quantum computing applications.
Integration with Photonics: Magnonics can be integrated with photonics for faster data transmission.
Small Wavelength: Magnonic waves have shorter wavelengths, allowing for miniaturization of components.
Noise Reduction: Magnonics can operate with less electronic noise, improving signal integrity.
Material Versatility: They can be implemented in a variety of materials, not just traditional semiconductor materials.
Magnetic Logic: Magnonics opens the door to magnetic logic circuits, which could revolutionize how computing logic is performed.
Ultra-small Size: Nanoradios are small enough to fit into densely packed circuits, enabling more compact designs.
Wireless Communication: They enable wireless communication at the nanoscale, eliminating the need for physical connectors.
Low Power Operation: Nanoradios consume minuscule amounts of power, which is crucial for nanoscale devices.
High Frequency: They can operate at terahertz frequencies, which allows for faster data transfer rates.
Flexibility: Nanoradios can be fabricated on flexible substrates, useful for flexible electronics and wearables.
Robustness: They are less susceptible to wear and tear from physical connections, increasing the longevity of devices.
Reduced Interference: With the potential to operate at higher frequencies, they can reduce electromagnetic interference.
Scalability: Nanoradios can be mass-produced using standard lithography techniques, making them scalable for widespread use.
Self-powered: Some nanoradios can harvest energy from their environment, leading towards self-sufficient nanodevices.
Enhanced Connectivity: They can be the basis for a new type of intra-chip and inter-chip communication, leading to new computing architectures.
Life in the Singularity is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.