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BBC: Future computers could rewire themselves


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Future computers could rewire themselves

Future microchips may have only one type of component, capable of rewiring itself to do different jobs.

Researchers from Northwestern University in the US have developed a material that can radically change its electronic properties.

A resistor made from it could become a transistor or a diode, according to the report in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The discovery could lead to cheaper, smaller and more powerful computers.

As electronics advance and demands for portability increase, one of the main challenges has been decreasing the size of elementary components.

Technology firms have attempted to address this with a number of innovations, including new ways of building circuit tracks so signals do not suffer damaging interference at ultra small sizes.

The Northwestern University team took a different approach.

"It's becoming more and more challenging to make devices smaller and you need to think of new ways rather than just shrinking things down because you're reaching a fundamental scientific limit here of how small you can make a device," said David Walker, one of the researchers.

"Our solution to this is instead of making things smaller, why don't we try to make them more versatile - by taking all these hardware components and building them into one.

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In my experience, whether with regular computers or the ones in cars, they frequently re-wire themselves already. :ols:

Prime example. Just fixed a car that had a tire pressure light that wouldn't go out. After checking all the sensors and that the computer was reading them found out that the computer had inexplicably decided that wheel set 2 (winter tires) were on the car and therefore was looking for a different set of non-existant sensors. Fun times, I hate computers.

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