According to Moore’s Law, computer
processing power doubles every two years.
Although it’s not a law of physics, engineers
deem it a professional responsibility, but they’re
starting to reach the limits of conventional materials:
Silicon channels just can’t carry enough electrical
current. To keep it flowing, IBM announced in July it has developed a new silicon germanium alloy and — even more significant, says IBM engineer Mukesh Khare — integrated a short-wavelength laser used to etch the circuits.
Known as extreme ultraviolet lithography, it’s 10 times
finer than current techniques, channeling more
than 20 billion switches into a chip about the size
of a fingernail.
[This article originally appeared in print as "Micro Microchips."]