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  1. #1
    Airborne Recon Gy-reen Rexasaurus
    Timmy_2_Tones's Avatar
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    Pencils making computers faster!

    What are the possibilities that a standard (old school) No. 2 pencil will make a computer run faster?

    Quote Originally Posted by hplusmagazine.com
    Graphene. If youíve never heard about it, donít worry, a lot of people havenít, because itís really only been ďdiscoveredĒ relatively recently, and most of the truly interesting news about it has been in the last year. The amazing thing is that weíve actually been using it for centuries, in the form of the common pencil. Graphene is a form of carbon, much like carbon nanotubes and other fullerenes, with one major difference. While fullerenes are 3D structures of carbon atoms, graphene is a flat sheet. Itís a 2D lattice of carbon with bonds as strong as diamond. Itís this sheetlike nature that makes it so useful in a pencil. As you write, individual planes of graphite are sheared off the end and deposited on the paper. Those individual planes are pure graphene.

    By now, most of you are familiar with carbon nanotubes, a.k.a. CNTs, and their potential for computers. Graphene has equally amazing properties, including some that might make it far more readily usable than CNTs. First, like CNTs, graphene is capable of conducting electricity with much less resistance than copper. That alone makes it useful, but graphene has even more interesting properties. As New Scientist reports bending graphene creates strains between atoms that can create isolated pathways which then act as nanoribbons ó wires ó within the still connected sheet. In other words, the morphology of graphene affects its electrical properties: change the flat sheet by bending parts of it, and you change how electricity flows through it.

    But that isnít all. The pattern of carbon bonds has effects as well. Graphene is a hexagonal grid of carbon, much like a roll of chicken wire. Remove one random atom from the pattern every so often, and graphene can exhibit magnetic behavior without needing the presence of magnetic metals. Adding hydrogen into the mix creates grapheneís non-conductive cousin, graphane. Taking precisely defined patterns of atoms out of the sheet can create well-defined circuits, creating wires that are almost superconducting.

    All of these properties make graphene a very important material for the future of electronics. It has already been used to create field effect transistors, the primary component of a computer processor. When you combine this with the other features above, you have a single material that could be used for the majority of the components in every electronic device we currently haveÖ with one major difference: speed. Current silicon based chips have a limited speed at which they can run at room temperature without overheating and malfunctioning. Go much over 3GHz without some major cooling and chips melt down. But replace those chips with graphene equivalents ó without having made any other changes to the circuits -óand you can raise that limit much higher. Potentially 100 to 1000 times higher.

    Letís think about that for a moment. Thatís 300GHz to 3000GHz or 3Terahertz.

    Thatís a jump of two or three orders of magnitude up the exponential curve, my friends, especially when you combine it with the advances in multi-core technology and parallel computing. Weíre talking about that smartphone in your pocket having a thousand times the computing power of your desktop PC, but using no more power than it does right now. The resistance of graphene at room temperature is so much lower than copper and silicon that even though itís running at 1000 times the speed, itís not using any more current, or wasting any more energy as heat than an identical silicon device, and thatís without considering any other possible advances in the field of electronics design.

    Weíre talking about that smartphone in your pocket having a thousand times the computing power of your desktop PC, but using no more power.

    That big a leap in processing speed will simplify a lot of extremely complex tasks that require extensive amounts of data. From SETI searches for extraterrestrial intelligence to the search for all the ways a protein can fold, scientists use millions of processors in parallel to speed up research. A thousand-fold increase in computer speed could cut months to years off the time needed for their projects. The same goes for DNA sequencing, data mining, and a host of other areas.

    And science will not be the sole benefactor. Most smartphones these days have the ability to use their cameras to create virtual overlays on the images that they see, a technique called Augmented Reality. AR has advanced to the point that itís possible to create virtual characters in photos on your phone using nothing more than a 2D patterned target on the ground, or to create interactive ďvirtual assistantsĒ in projected video that are capable of interacting with real world objects. Ultrafast computers will be essential for ushering in the age of Virtual Reality.

    A massive increase in computer speeds is likely to benefit other complex computing tasks as well, such as real-time speech language translation. Right now, it is difficult to make these programs run quickly enough to be useful. A thousand-fold increase in computer speed could make brute force approaches a practical solution, enabling computers to crunch through entire dictionaries in milliseconds. It could make possible the elusive conversational interface that so many people believe will be the next step in operating systems. That speed will also be useful in the next generation of robotics, quite possibly bringing us a step closer to the kind of robots seen in movies like I, Robot or Star Wars. Ultrafast computers would enable a major reduction in the size of the computers needed to run some of the most complex robots we currently have, bringing the day of Rosie the Robot maid that much closer.

    Obviously, ultrafast computers are going to have a very far-reaching effect on the way we do things, as well as how we interact with each other and our world, so the real questions are how practical is it to make graphene chips, and how soon can they be made? The answer is probably going to surprise you. Graphene has already been proven to be usable in current chip manufacturing processes with only minimal retooling needed. In fact, IBM has already created working 30GHz test devices using graphene transistors. In other words, graphene could begin making its way into computers as early as 2012 to 2015, and almost certainly by 2020.

    Graphene, that same single-atom-thick layer of carbon that is a part of every pencil mark, is going to make all of this possible. Not bad for the humble Number 2, huh?
    Link!

    Signature thanks to jgreco138

  2. #2
    King of the Road
    MaximusR3's Avatar
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    Re: Pencils making computers faster!

    ok i filled up my computer case with all the pencils i could find and it is still slow as hell.....this topic is misleading, guess i have to read the quoted article now


    this sounds like a really great leap forward in technology but 2012? they better pick up the pace because if it takes that long the world will have already ended before we get to see it utilized lol

    Gaming is staying up 'til 3am to earn a trophy that isn't real.......BUT IS

  3. #3
    USMG Beer & Boob Judge
    River_Rat_459's Avatar
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    Re: Pencils making computers faster!

    Letís think about that for a moment. Thatís 300GHz to 3000GHz or 3Terahertz.
    Daaaammnn!

    I'm following your lead there, Max. I called my buddies over at the local armed forces recruiting station and asked if I could have all of the freebie pencils they could spare.

    Indecision may or may not be my problem.

  4. #4
    Airborne Recon Gy-reen Rexasaurus
    Timmy_2_Tones's Avatar
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    Re: Pencils making computers faster!

    I suppose I should have told you guys, that after I posted the article, I took out the processor from my laptop and shoved a pencil down into the motherboard. All i can say is that I am glad I still have a warranty on the laptop. :shock:

    Signature thanks to jgreco138

  5. #5
    USMG Beer & Boob Judge
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    Re: Pencils making computers faster!

    Oooh...not good Timmy, not good at all. I hope that's a no-fault, extended warranty!

    Indecision may or may not be my problem.

  6. #6
    Airborne Recon Gy-reen Rexasaurus
    Timmy_2_Tones's Avatar
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    Re: Pencils making computers faster!

    It is actually called.
    Tim is a psychopath, so they wil just replace it because they fear me and my awesomeness warranty.

    Signature thanks to jgreco138

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