Synopsis: Preventive circuitry

In transistor circuits, preventing logical errors with physical fault tolerance is more efficient than correcting errors with a fault-tolerant architecture.
Synopsis figure
Credit: Sami Mitra

The electronics industry’s access to smarter, lighter, and more powerful devices depends on whether transistor circuits—the building blocks of such devices—can process large amounts of information. As circuits get faster and smaller, errors—arising from heat dissipation, noise, and structural disorder—in the physical information they process can impede development. Experts debate on whether to concentrate on inherent physical fault tolerance that prevents error generation, or on architectural fault tolerance that corrects errors by sophisticated algorithms.

Writing in Physical Review Letters, Thomas Szkopek at McGill University, Canada, and colleagues in the US quantify these error-suppressing processes for model nanoelectronic systems. Using the electron number as the dimensionless size parameter for logic gates, they estimate the minimum number of electrons necessary for reliable circuit logic. They find that the physical fault tolerance in transistor circuits suppresses the error rate per electron number exponentially, compared to only subexponential suppression of error rate in the most efficient fault-tolerant architecture of logical gates. Their conclusion—that error prevention is better than error correction—has implications for transistor device technologies and CMOS scaling, and may impose a minimum limit on the size of devices. – Manolis Antonoyiannakis


More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Quantum InformationSemiconductor PhysicsNanophysics

Previous Synopsis

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Time doesn’t stand still

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Fluid Dynamics

Fruit flies swim through air

Read More »

Related Articles

Viewpoint: Hiding a Quantum Cache in Diamonds
Quantum Information

Viewpoint: Hiding a Quantum Cache in Diamonds

Entanglement purification, a vital enabler for practical quantum networks, has been shown to be feasible with secluded nuclear memories in diamond. Read More »

Viewpoint: Classical Simulation of Quantum Systems?

Viewpoint: Classical Simulation of Quantum Systems?

Richard Feynman suggested that it takes a quantum computer to simulate large quantum systems, but a new study shows that a classical computer can work when the system has loss and noise. Read More »

Focus: <i>Landmarks</i>—Correcting Quantum Computer Errors
Quantum Physics

Focus: Landmarks—Correcting Quantum Computer Errors

In the mid-1990s, researchers proposed methods to preserve the integrity of quantum bits—techniques that may become the key to practical quantum computing on a large scale. Read More »

More Articles