DNA-based computer processor can grow as it computes

Signal of change / DNA-based computer processor can grow as it computes

By Anna Simpson / 17 Apr 2017
Researchers from the University of Manchester have demonstrated for the first time the feasibility of a new super-fast form of computer that “grows as it computes”, known as a nondeterministic universal Turing machine (NUTM). Their research is to be published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The breakthrough promises an exponential boost in speed over electronic and quantum computers. The key difference between the new model and its predecessors is that the computer’s processors are made of DNA rather than silicon chips. This means that when the computer needs to choose a path in a calculation, it can duplicate itself and follow both paths at once. This increases its potential to find an answer and the speed of processing.

So what?

This development not only promises a significant leap in computer processing speed, but also represents a leap in the artificial creation of life-like intelligence. Significantly for sustainability, this new way of processing could lead to huge reductions in the energy requirements of computers, solving the problem of vast energy-draining data centres today. As Professor Ross D King explains, “As DNA molecules are very small, a desktop computer could potentially utilize more processors than all the electronic computers in the world combined - and therefore outperform the world’s current fastest supercomputer, while consuming a tiny fraction of its energy.” How long will it take for this new generation of super computers to reach commercial scale?



What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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