Energy-saving magnetic PCs, soon


2 May 2011
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Coming soon- Magnetic computers which may use far less energy, say scientists.
A team at the University of California, which is developing such computers, claims that the future machines will rely on magnetic microprocessors which consume the least amount of energy allowed by the laws of physics.

Today's silicon-based microprocessor chips rely on electric currents, or moving electrons, that generate a lot of waste heat.

But microprocessors employing nanometer-sized bar magnets - like tiny refrigerator magnets - for memory, logic and switching operations theoretically would require no moving electrons, say the scientists.

Such chips would dissipate only 18 millielectron volts of energy per operation at room temperature, the minimum allowed by the second law of thermodynamics and called the Landauer limit. That's one million times less energy per operation than consumed by today's computers.

Brian Lambson , who led the team, said: "Today, computers run on electricity, by moving electrons around a circuit, you can process information. A magnetic computer, on the other hand, doesn't involve any moving electrons.

"You store and process information using magnets, and if you make these magnets really small, you can basically pack them very close together so that they interact with one another. This is how we are able to do computations, have memory and conduct all the functions of a computer."

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