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IBM sees stacked silicon sitting in fluid as the way to power future PCs

Chris Barylick, @poingferret
November 17, 2011
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Generally, the combination of microchips, electricity and fluids is usually considered an incredibly bad thing. IBM, however, thinks it can combine those three to make super small and super powerful computers in the future. The idea is to stack hundreds of silicon wafers and utilize dual fluidic networks between them to create 3D processors. In such a setup, one network carries in charged fluid to power the chip, while the second carries away the same fluid after it has picked up heat from the active transistors. Of course, 3D chips are already on the way, and liquid cooled components are nothing new, but powering a PC by fluids instead of wires has never been done before. Bruno Michel, who's leading Big Blue's research team, has high hopes for the technology, because future processors will need the extra cooling and reduced power consumption it can provide. Michel says he and his colleagues have demonstrated that it's possible to use a liquid to transfer power via a network of fluidic channels, and they to plan build a working prototype chip by 2014. If successful, your smartphone could eventually contain the power of the Watson supercomputer. Chop, chop, fellas, those futuristic fluidic networks aren't going to build themselves.

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