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Brain in a Box

Stan Williams, the HP Labs guru, spoke of creating a “central nervous system for the Earth (CeNSE) with a trillion nanoscale sensors and actuators. The goal is to revolutionize human interaction with the Earth as profoundly as the Internet has revolutionized personal and business interactions.”


From a conversation I had with him over lunch, I was fascinated about a new development, not yet published. Stan has figured out a way to implement all logic functions without negation. It is easy to implement all logic functions using only NAND or NOR gates, but not with just an AND or OR gate. He found the premise for this in a 160 year old philosophy book, and he calls the new gate IMP.


This allows him to implement all logic functions using only two-terminal devices (vs. three-terminal transistors traditionally used today).


Before this, the main application of Stan’s work was memory. The memristor is interesting as he can migrate dopants electrically with a two-terminal device, thereby creating a nanoscale non-volatile memory.


Two-terminal devices are much easier to assembly on the nanoscale, using simple crossbars of metal, and/or self-assembly techniques.


From earlier blogging: “Given the importance of memory advances and the relative ease of applying molecular electronics to memory, we may see a bifurcation in Moore’s Law, where technical advances in memory precede logic by several years. This is because molecular self-assembly approaches apply easily to regular 2D structures, like a memory array, and not to the heterogeneous interconnect of logic gates. Self-assembly of simple components does not lend itself to complex designs.” (further blogging on the molecular electronics future)


Also, from what he sees, Nanotech is emerging from the hype / valley of despair cycle to real business opportunities.


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Taken on July 22, 2008