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UCLA engineers announce semicon spin-wave research findings

Posted: 15 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:engineer? UCLA? Henry Samueli School? semiconductor? spin-wave?

Engineers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science are announcing what they tout as a critical new breakthrough in semiconductor spin-wave research.

UCLA Engineering adjunct professor Mary Mehrnoosh Eshaghian-Wilner, researcher Alexander Khitun and professor Kang Wang have created three novel nanoscale computational architectures using a technology they pioneered called "spin-wave buses" as the mechanism for interconnection. According to UCLA's press release, these three nanoscale architectures are not only power efficient but also possess a high degree of interconnectivity.

"Progress in the miniaturization of semiconductor electronic devices has meant chip features have become nanoscale. Today's current devices, which are based on CMOS standards can't get much smaller and still function properly and effectively. CMOS continues to face increasing power and cost challenges," Wang said.

In contrast to traditional information processing technology devices that move electric charges around while ignoring the extra spin that tags along for the ride, spin-wave buses put the extra motion to work transferring data or power between computer components, the press release said. Information is encoded directly into the phase of the spin waves. Unlike a point-to-point connection, a "bus" can logically connect several peripherals. The result is a reduction in power consumption, less heat and, ultimately, the ability to make components much smaller as no physical wires are actually used to send the data.

The idea of using spin waves for information transmission and processing was first developed under the name "spin-wave buses" by Khitun, Wang and graduate researcher Roman Ostroumov.

"We've made a significant effort to demonstrate the operation of spin-based devices at room temperature," Khitun said. "Our experimental results confirm the intriguing fact that information can be transmitted via spin waves propagating in spin waveguidesferromagnetic films."

The UCLA engineering team contends that the creation and detection of spin-wave packets in nanostructures can be used efficiently to perform massively parallel computational operations, allowing for the design of the first practical, fully interconnected network of processors on a single chip. This breaks with currently proposed spintronic architectures, which rely on a charge transfer simultaneously with spin for information exchange and show significant interconnect problems.

Eshaghian-Wilner, Khitun and Wang have developed three innovative, spin-wave bus-based designs that use spin waves to achieve the low-power device performance and improved scalability highly desired by industry chip manufacturers.

The first device developed is a reconfigurable mesh interconnected with spin-wave buses. The architecture of the device requires the same number of switches and buses as standard reconfigurable meshes, but is capable of simultaneously transmitting multiple waves using different frequencies on each of the spin-wave busesmaking the parallel architecture capable of very fast and fault-tolerant algorithms. Unlike the traditional spin-based nanostructures that also transmit charge, with this design only waves are transmitted, keeping power consumption extremely low.

The second architecture invention is a fully connected cluster of functional units with spin-wave buses. Each node simultaneously broadcasts to all other nodes, and can receive and process multiple data concurrently. The novel design allows all nodes to intercommunicate in constant time. According to the team, this invention overcomes traditional area restrictions found in current networks.

The researchers also have developed a spin-wave-based crossbar for fully interconnecting multiple inputs to multiple outputs. Compared to standard molecular crossbar designs, said the press release, the UCLA team's is much more fault-tolerant, allowing alternate paths to be reconfigured in case of switch failure. By transmitting waves instead of traditional current charge transmission, the design architecture allows a large reduction in power consumption and provides a high level of interconnectivity between many more paths than currently possible.

"Over the past few years, scientists have studied a variety of methods for designing nanoscale computer architectures. Our collaborative approach using spin-wave buses is a novel one that we hope will lead to additional breakthroughs," Khitun said.

Currently, various extensions and applications of these three designs are being studied and evaluated by the UCLA engineering team and their students. Other application areas being investigated include bioinformatics and implantable biomedical devices.




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