One tiny chip, one trillion operations per second
Hybrid silicon laser chip
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
SCOTT JAGOW: Intel shows off a new computer chip today that can do a trillion calculations per second, but it uses the energy of one 60-watt light bulb. A decade ago it took 10,000 of these processors and 16 light bulbs to do the job. Technology expert Barry Fox is with us. Barry, how big of a breakthrough is this?
BARRY FOX: What really excited me about this is not so much that the new chip will be able to do what would previously have been done by a room full of equipment, it's that it uses much less power, much less electricity. It looks to me like this could signal a much more significant change in the way Intel makes chips and thereby make portable laptops, PDAs run cooler and run longer on their batteries.
JAGOW: Can you give us some idea of how much faster this chip really is?
FOX: Well we get into this area of teraflops.
JAGOW: And that's t-e-r-a?
FOX: T-e-r-a. When we first used computers, they were running at kilohertz, that's thousands of operations a second. Then they went to megahertz, which is millions. Then they went to gigahertz which is thousands of millions, and now we're going to tera which is thousands of gigas.
JAGOW: What would you need that much power for?
FOX: You need that power when you do things that have to be very clever. Probably the best example is speech recognition. In other words, you and I are talking and as we talk our conversation is not only recognized, but also it can be converted into another language.
FOX: And that has been always the Holy Grail.
JAGOW: Well this is pretty amazing stuff. Barry thanks so much.
FOX: It's a pleasure.
JAGOW: IT expert Barry Fox.