In the future, chips might just loosely float around in some oil-like substance instead of being stuck to a circuit board, if researchers at Sun Microsystems are right.
At an open house of its Sun Labs research division in Silicon Valley, the vendor showed off its 'proximity communications' project.
The technology will eliminate the need for a chip to have a physical connection to the motherboard and other chips within a system, resulting in a dramatic speed increase while delivering a fivefold power reduction.
"We want to get more data into and out of chips," said Sun researcher Robert Drost.
Instead of being connected with physical wires, chips will float on top of each other divided by a space just a few microns wide.
This effectively creates a capacitor, allowing the chips to communicate without physically touching.
A new technology, yet to be developed, will hold the chips in place and aligned to each other, as well as correct for the chips if they become misaligned.
Glenn Edens, director of Sun Labs, told vnunet.com that the technology is his favourite of all the hardware projects being pursued at his facility.
"I would like to see proximity I/O in two or three years," he said, promising a significant increase in research spending for the project.
Scientists involved with the technology said that, at the current pace, they did not expect any real applications before 2009.
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