Chips that have 3D elements to them are very much real. Moving data in 3D hasn't been truly viable until now, however, which makes an experimental chip from the University of Cambridge that much more special. By sandwiching a layer of ruthenium atoms between cobalt and platinum, researchers found that they can move data up and down an otherwise silicon-based design through spintronics; the magnetic field manipulation sends information across the ruthenium to its destination. The layering is precise enough to create a "staircase" that moves data one step at a time. There's no word on if and when the technique might be applied to real-world circuitry, but the advantages in density are almost self-evident: the university suggests higher-capacity storage, while processors could also be stacked vertically instead of consuming an ever larger 2D footprint. As long as the 3D chip technology escapes the lab, computing power could take a big step forward. Or rather, upward.
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