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University shows 1.4GHz cube CPU prototype

updated 05:00 pm EDT, Tue September 16, 2008

Rochester cube processor

The University of Rochester on Monday announced it has a working three-dimensional computer chip it calls the cube and is running at 1.4GHz. The nicknamed Rochester cube takes the concept of three-dimensional circuits to a new level, as its processing functions are optimized vertically in the same way as a regular chip's are optimized horizontally, unlike previous attempts that simply stacked regular chips atop one another. Developed by Eby Friedman, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rochester and faculty director of the processor, and engineering student Vasilis Pavlidis, the 3D chip is described as basically a whole circuit board folded up into a small footprint.

Friedman maintains typical chips in the consumer devices such as iPods could be made ten times smaller and have ten time the processing power with the new technology. Such vertical expansion does have major hurdles to cross, however, as making the three layers interact like a single system will require the development of an advanced control system. Each layer could be assigned specific tasks such as converting images or controlling a camera, prompting the design's comparison to a circuit board.

The cube's operation was made possible thanks to the architecture Friedman and the University students designed, which accounts for the chips' different impedances, operating speeds and power requirements. The design is the very first that makes synchronicity, power distribution and long-distance signaling fully functioning in three dimensions. The chip itself was manufactured at MIT and has mullions on microscopic holes drilled into the insulation between layers to allow vertical connections to the transistors in each layer.

Friedman believes scaling circuits horizontally is nearing its limits, while vertical scaling is just in its infancy and will be the future of chip design. [via Eureka Alert]

by MacNN Staff



  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Cyberdyne Systems, now!

    "I'm a Cyberdyne Systems T-800, model 101. My CPU is a neural processah... a learning computah!"

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Resistance Is Futile!

    If it was using super conductor tech. ;)

  1. kaisdaddy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's slicker than...

    ...two eels in a bucket of snot.

  1. rtbarry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    lol editor

    "mullions on microscopic holes"

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    this doesn't...

    quite sound like 3D vertical processing. Sounds more like 3 smaller chips sandwiched together with transistors running from one to the next to mimick a "vertical" direction.

    Sorry - but when I think of 3D processing - I envision a solid 3D medium that the computer somehow can access any point within that 3D medium to conduct it's tasks.

    Not something akin to empty wooden palletes stacked upon each other - tied together by copper wire.

    Might as well stick to the current Cell or Multi-processors on a chip technology currently under development.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple will be suing soon over the name 'cube'.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "You will be assimilated."

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