Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest personal-computer maker, announced research that may lead to an "improvement" in chips used in the...

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Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest personal-computer maker, announced research that may lead to an “improvement” in chips used in the communications, automotive and consumer-electronics industries.

The research may result in the creation of chips that are as much as eight times denser than those being produced now, while requiring less energy, using nanotechnology, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said Tuesday in a statement.

The cost of making chips is rising because of the expense of increasing production tolerances. Hewlett-Packard said it aims to limit costs by raising the density of field programmable gate arrays, or FPGAs, without the need for higher tolerances.

Hewlett-Packard said it expects to have a laboratory prototype of the chip completed “within the year.”

The global semiconductor industry is approaching the likely limit of Moore’s Law, a theory that has driven engineers to design smaller and faster chips for four decades.

Intel co-founder Gordon Moore discovered that engineers could double the performance of microprocessors about every two years by shrinking the size of the circuits that carry electrons across silicon wafers, thereby increasing the number of transistors on a chip.

“This is three generations of Moore’s Law, without having to do all the research and development to shrink the transistors,” senior HP fellow Stan Williams told the San Jose Mercury News. “If in some sense we can leapfrog three generations, that is something like five years of R&D. That is the potential of this breakthrough.”

HP scientists have published their work in the British Institute of Physics’ current issue of Nanotechnology.