New milestone could help magnets end era of computer transistors


end_era(19/Nov/ 2013) New work by researchers at UC Berkeley could soon transform the building blocks of modern electronics by making nanomagnetic switches a viable replacement for the conventional transistors found in all computers.

Semiconductor-based transistors, the on-off switches that direct the flow of electricity and form a computer’s nervous system, have been consuming greater chunks of power at increasingly hotter temperatures as processing speeds grow. For more than a decade, researchers have been pursuing magnets as an alternative to transistors because they require far less energy needs when switching. However, until now, the power needed to generate the magnetic field to orient the magnets so they can easily clock on and off has negated much of the energy savings that would have been gained by moving away from transistors.

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