InterJournal Complex Systems, 79
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [79]
Submission Date: 963011
Power management alternatives for nanoscale cellular automata
Author(s): Tommaso Toffoli

Subject(s): CX.04

Category: Brief Article


Nanoscale cellular automata may deliver astronomical amounts of computation, but only with radical power management initiatives that directly affect device, circuit, architecture, and algorithm strategies. A cellular automata architecture allows one to use a high processing-to-storage ratio and to drastically reduce communication distances. This makes it possible to have essentially the entire circuit area dedicated to processing at the full intrinsic speed of the switching devices---unencumbered by interconnection delays. In this design context, a quite ordinary circuit that took full advantage of the density and speed permitted by current technology would make extraordinary demands in terms of power supply and heat removal. In a sense, we already are capable of more density and speed that we can actually use! Four power management strategies are discussed. The third of these entails a substantial overhaul of circuit design; the fourth, in addition, entails a radically new approach to device design. The fourth strategy has the greatest promise in terms of raw amounts of computing power, but would yield full efficiency only for a certain class of computations. Typical of this class are massively parallel, fine-grained simulations of physical phenomena.

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