Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PH253 last lecture: computer logic & memories

It seems flash/ram/etc has won the day, so my last lecture of the semester will be on computer architecture, logic, and memory from a physics-y point of view. Invite your friends ;-)

The rough plan will be this:
  • What is our current high-level computer architecture?
  • How does one make memory/logic? What components are required? How do they work?
  • How do we currently build logic and memory?
  • How do (s/d)-ram and flash memories work?
  • What are the future prospects/promising new technologies?
  • Is Moore's "law" really in trouble? (Spoiler: it is not a law, and not yet.)
I think this will make a nice consistent logical flow, and all these topics are accessible with the physics we've covered. Time permitting, I would add:
  • A brief overview of how hard disks work
  • A brief overview of how mram might work (spoiler: it isn't ready yet)
  • Energy requirements/limitations for computation
This last lecture will be mostly 'show & tell' via powerpoint - almost no equations, mostly descriptive, but we've covered all the physics you need to understand these things. None of it will be on the final exam (neither will the material on LASERs from today).

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