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Section 1 / Page 30

Part of a press statement put out by a Cambridge Lab

A new generation of magnetic microchips developed in a Cambridge laboratory heralds the beginning of a faster, more efficient technological age. The chip uses magnetic fields to represent and process information. Versions currently being tested are up to 40,000 times more efficient than the electronic chips in use today.

Dr Russell Cowburn said the chips, which he and colleague Professor Mark Welland have developed at Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering, were likely to revolutionise the manufacture of microchips.

In a paper published in Science, Dr Cowburn describes the advantages the new chip has over existing technology. He said:

"There are two big differences. The first is size: most existing electronic chips can fit up to 6.6 million transistors (the basic building blocks of all microchips) into 1cm2 of space.
"But we have demonstrated a device that can fit 5,500 million transistors into a similar area. We estimate in future years this could increase to 250,000 million transistors per 1cm2.
"The other big advantage is energy consumption. Electronic chips use up energy during operation, whereas a magnet does not.
"That means computers developed using magnetic microchips will need much less power to work. The days of carrying around heavy batteries for laptop computers and mobile phones are numbered!"

Professor Welland added that it would be several years before the new technology could be developed commercially, but he said a completely new type of computer would be made using this method.


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