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Supercomputing: Probing the Future


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The probe head (right) moves across circuit components on a chip.

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed an automated probe system for gauging the performance of computer elements designed to run 100 times faster than current supercomputers while consuming far less energy.

Credit: U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed an automated probe system for gauging the performance of computer elements designed to run 100 times faster than current supercomputers while consuming far less energy.

The probe employs a cryostat with a temperature instability of 50 millikelvin, mated to a three-axis manipulator directed by an optical feedback system. The probe can precisely position its tip via camera-delivered feedback.

The researchers tested the devices at both 4 degrees Kelvin and at room temperature to correlate properties across a range of about 300 degrees Kelvin, allowing for testing to provide quantitative predictive behavior at the lower temperature.

The research aligns with NIST's mission to independently test devices developed under the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity's Cryogenic Computing Complexity program, which dictates the machines' memory and logic units are developed by three different industry participants.

From NIST News
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