The chips currently found in the best CPUs and GPUs on the market are all made of silicon, but scientists are aware of their limitations. To continue to scale performance without compromising energy efficiency, a lot of research is being done to find a replacement for silicon.
One such option could be graphene, which could potentially offer 10 times the performance of silicon while maintaining low power consumption. However, there is a problem: it is very expensive to make.
As reported by Wccftech, several companies talked about using graphene as a replacement for the silicon-based chips we know today. The China Graphene Copper Innovation was created at the China International Graphene Innovation Conference, and it looks like something is coming of these graphene-related plans for the first time in years.
While silicon is popular today due to its high yields and acceptable production costs, graphene could certainly do better. It’s much, much stronger than silicon; in fact, it is said to be 200 times stronger than steel. Despite that, it is super lightweight. A square meter of graphene weighs less than a milligram. It’s also very beneficial, both in terms of thermals and electricity, and could replace copper in these futuristic chips.
IBM Corporation showed graphene wafers way back in 2010, so graphene research has been going on for a long time. At the time, the chips showed transistor frequencies of up to 100 GHz, but IBM said they could potentially scale up to 1000 GHz. Despite that, graphene has never been picked up for mass production, and production costs are to blame.
While we may be approaching the limits of what silicon-based chips can do, at least they are widely available and much cheaper to make. Graphene-based chips are much more complex to produce, so it’s hard to say if and when they will go into mass production on a scale that could have an impact. Scientists are also exploring other, perhaps much more bizarre routes, such as making chips from honey or using paper to make printed circuit boards (PCBs).