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Postcards from Tomorrow's Data Centers

  • Print Your Own Circuits

    Photo: Printed Electronics

    Image Source: Aneeve

    3D printing will revolutionize the market for electronic equipment, if not the science behind it. With the right materials on hand, IT might simply print electronics for servers right inside the data center. For instance, Aneeve, a company spun out of research labs at UCLA and USC, is developing "nano enabled carbon electronics" based on nanotubes that can be printed on a carbon nanotube machine.

  • Going Nano

    Photo: Carbon Nanotube Processor

    Image Source: Technology Review

    Carbon nanotubes could change the way semiconductors are designed by ditching electrons as the basic method of storing and transporting data. Nanotubes can store data as vibrations instead, eliminating the need to build all those fat electron superhighways on the CPU in favor of a few lightly plucked bits of low-voltage, high-power tubes.

  • Metamaterials Will Reshape Chips

    Photo: Switchable Metamolecule

    Image Source: Xiang Zhang, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    The future belongs to metamaterials with intelligence built into their structure, not added with electronics. One composite that can be twisted into a series of Mobius strips can store data based on its shape or its ability to change the "handedness" of specific molecules, which could make

  • Two Metamaterials Are Better Than One

    Photo: Flash Memory Made Out of Graphene and Molybdenite

    Image Source: Phys.Org/EPFL, Pascal Coderay

    If one metamaterial can outperform silicon in computers, why not two? Adding graphene and molybdenite in layers, researchers built flash memory that uses less space and less energy than silicon and is still flexible enough to be built into a bendable film for nanoelectronic devices.

  • New Power Sources

    Photo: Nuclear Battery

    Image Source: NASA

    Power is a huge problem for today's data centers, but maybe not for tomorrow's. Run your bits on a nuclear battery and you don't have to worry about power outages. You also can tuck a data center anywhere you want it, not only where high-power lines come together like ley lines at Stonehenge.

  • Data Center Cyborgs

    Photo: Computer Chip With Human-like Neurons

    Image Source:

    Running a data center with keyboards and management apps is so last-decade. The hot interface of 2023 could be a direct connection to the brains of operators using a series of chips that push protons through their channels rather than electrons, and can trade information with biological systems to manage data centers by thought. Hello, my name is Locutus of Borg.

  • The Power of Probability

    Photo: Quantum Computing

    Image Source: National Institutes of Standards and Technology

    Uncertainty is a bad thing in computing, unless it's a quantum computer that eschews bits for qubits, which can be 0, 1 or, somehow, both at the same time. Using semi-explainable phenomena like quantum entanglement and probability, quantum computers could gobble data in volumes orders of magnitude greater than your pathetic, Euclidian transistors and bits.

  • Magnetic Tornados for Massive Storage

    Photo: Magnetic Vortices

    Image Source: Peter Fischer, Mi-Young Im, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    Painting information in long strips is not the only way to store data on ferromagnetic disks. Under the right conditions, ferromagnetic disks form magnetic vortices; that is, tiny tornadoes that can be manipulated to store data faster and more densely than today's RAM, without needing a power connection to keep it from forgetting.