Super-fast computing is a buzzword yet to catch on as no one has defined exactly what it means. Most experts agree it will involve some form of ‘quantum computer’, but exactly how such a device is to be constructed is up for debate.
Quantum computers would use the unique properties of atoms to perform calculations rather than the current model of transistors and semiconductors. There are several branches of the quantum theory being explored. Scientists in Sydney recently unveiled the world’s smallest transistor, created by precisely positioning a single phosphorus atom in a silicon crystal.
The consequences of this are profound; atomic semiconductors mean whole computers could be condensed and placed on a pinhead, drawing almost no power yet capable of performing calculations billions of times faster than even today’s fastest supercomputer, IBM’s BlueGene/L. However, it is estimated that the first fully functional quantum computer is still at least 20 years away.
Answered by Mike Andereisz