Processors in the future, what alternative to silicon ?

As we can see now, the race to power in the processors industry has slowed down for the last 5-10 years. The lack of conccurence for Intel and the physical limitations with current silicon-based processors, the world of processors is destined to experience a revolution in the coming years in terms of materials.

Intel is struggling to go below 14nm concerning the heat with the processor. It is indeed difficult to create processors that resist to the temperature generated for this engraving size.

AMD finally seems to wake up after several years of delay, and Intel could put more work in the processor elaboration.

The best current processor is only twice as powerful as the one 5 years ago and is 6 times more expensive.

To go further, we multiply the number of processors on the motherboard, we transform the graphics cards into processors, we create bridges between them to multiply the power. But all this has a cost in energy consumption! With a creation of heat that requires big ventirads for the thermal dissipation. The whole thing makes a dreadful noise.

One solution resides into the photonic crystals, an idea that comes from the 80s. At that time the realization was too expensive. It is much more accessible nowadays.

A better known alternative is graphene. IBM is conducting extensive research on this material.

Also carbon nanotubes. The processors will not become smaller, but will be much faster.

The spintronics which consists of measuring the negative charges of the electrons with the aid of a magnetic field. This technique would reduce the energy requirements and therefore the heat. According to experts, this method would be more effective than graphene and carbon nanotubes.

The quantum computer that is already a reality since Google intends to compete the current leader, the D-WAVE 2000Q. Instead of having 0s and 1s, we also have a superposition of 0 and 1. The power is then expressed in qubits and not in bits. This technology takes a lot of space because of the system required to cool the computer.

There is also photonic silicon. Hafnium dioxide (too rare), other metal oxides. Components completely made of germanium (instead of partially).

III-V compound semiconductors, such as indium arsenide and indium antimonide, which have 50 times more electron mobility than silicon.

A solution that combines III-V materials, silicon and germanium could emerge in the years to come and drastically change the situation.