Pushing Technology’s Thermodynamic Limits with ‘Momentum Computing’

Imagine your computer fan never having to cry for dear life keeping your computer cool. Physicist James Crutchfield of UC Davis and his graduate student Kyle Ray have proposed a new way to carry out computation that would dissipate only a small fraction of the heat produced by conventional circuits.

via Scientific American

The catch is that, to avoid transferring any heat—that is, to be what physicists call an adiabatic process—the series of logical operations in the computation must usually be carried out infinitely slowly. In a sense, this approach avoids any “frictional heating” in the process but at the cost of taking infinitely long to complete the calculation.
It hardly seems a practical solution, then. “The conventional wisdom for a long time has been that the energy dissipation in reversible computing is proportional to speed,” says computer scientist Michael Frank of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

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