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Magnetic Processors, by Omar Hegazy I think we can all agree that, in this day and age, the world

runs on computers. The Internet has become the ultimate center of sharing data and information, the hard drive has replaced the shelf and CD tray, and the keyboard has replaced the pen and notepad. Children are being raised on smartphones and iPads, with the amount of techsavvy kids on the rise. Its hard-pressed to walk into the average American home or small business, and not find at least one personal computer. However, as dependent and addicted we are to them, computers remain as electrically inefficient and architecturally outdated as they were decades ago. Processors (the figurative brain of any computer) have been using silicon to transfer data through means of electricity since their inception. Modern processors can give out and comprehend individual instructions by moving electrons in a transistor. A transistor is a semiconductor used to switch electronic signals. By changing the speed and direction of a current, a transistor amplifies an electronic signal. However, this is very wasteful, generating a lot of wasted heat. Modern processors use 18 thousand electron volts per operation at room temperature. This is why most computers nowadays require obscenely powerful power supplies (for example, the 2011 Mac Pro uses a 900 watt power supplyin comparison, the average LCD TV, which dissipates 200-300 watts). How do we solve this power abuse problem? University of California, Berkeley presents a much less power demanding solution: the magnetic processor. The magnetic processor operates by using tiny, nanometer bar magnets to share/comprehend data. When placed close enough to each other, bar magnets will serve as transistors. Magnetic processors will use the poles of nanometer-sized bar magnets to represent the 1 and 0 binary functions (all programs are actually binary files and can be boiled down to the binary formtrillions of virtual switches that can either be true/false: the amount and position of these true/false switches decides the function of a program. 1 assigns a true switch and 0 assigns a false switch.). By using the polarity of magnets to define true/false switches, the transferal of electrons is no longer necessarytherefore eliminating the need for currents and greatly reducing power usage. The evidence from experiments shows the great effect of magnetic processors. The magnetic processor uses .018 electron volts per operation at room temperature, which is the lowest amount of energy that a single operation can use as defined by Laundauers formula (which is a constant .0006 multiplied by temperature in Kelvinsin this case, temperature is room temperature; or 298 Kelvin. 298*.0006 is equal to .0178 electron volts, which is quite close to what magnetic processors dissipate!). The fact that we can utilize modern computers at nearly impossible low levels of power usage is revolutionary; however there are a few quirks. You still need a current to generate a significant magnetic field and flip a magnets polarity (which is necessary, since a binary files true/false binary switches arent permanent and switch between true and false). Requiring an electric current completely destroys the point of a magnetic processor, as you still need a power supply which uses too many volts and you still have a processor that uses a lot of joules. However, there are solutions. There is a multiferroic material magnet that is extremely sensitive to heat. As heat changes, its domains greatly realign, thus changing it from a magnetic state to a non-magnetic state. Thus, the magnet can switch heat to electricity immediately and remove the need for an electric current. I dont think I can see myself working in this industry. Most programs nowadays are optimized for the x86 instruction set architectures (which is the part of the processor that is in direct contact with virtual programming) defined by Intel, so such a massive change in processor architecture would require recoding programs for that architecture. I think, if this magnetic model has any hope of entering the commercial world, it should slowly ease its way through over a few decades, because a rapid change in tradition in the computer world can break a lot of things that were previously working. I agree that the magnetic model IS far more efficient and less power-hungry than what we are using now, but its simply not practical enough to take over in such a tradition-strict world.