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Old 5th February, 2010, 08:30 PM
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MIT Creates World's First Computer-Ready Germanium Laser

A new type of germanium laser may bring about the fastest room temperature computer communications yet.

Germanium is a versatile transition metal that is found in zinc-copper-lead ore bodies and coal. Germanium is used to create special semiconductors and tunable terahertz lasers.
Lasers could be used for faster bus between CPU and memory [Front page...]
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Old 6th February, 2010, 12:22 AM
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While this sounds interesting, I'm a little sceptical of its practicality. Germanium has been used in semiconductors for years (in fact, the first transistors were made with germanium, IIRC). It lost favor to silicon because, although germanium can be about an order of magnitude faster and about an order of magnitude lower voltage drop when operated in a forward biased mode, it also has higher leakage current than silicion. It is also more difficult to process into an integrated circuit than silicon IIRC. In addition, it has poor thermal stability compared to silicon, meaning it has a narrower range of safe operating temperatures.

As a consequence, germanium has been relegated to those areas where its characteristics (high speed, low switching losses) outweigh it's disadvantages (high leakage currents, poor heat tolerance); basically high speed power switches in RF amplifiers and that sort of thing.
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Old 8th February, 2010, 09:46 PM
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I wonder if the plan is to install these tiny lasers on the mainboard, to be a bridge between the CPU and the Memory bus? Seems redundant at first, but if these things are really an order of magnitude faster than copper traces...?
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