Inspired by the human brain, IBM has developed a computer which runs on what it calls 'electronic blood'.
The prototype computer, which uses only 20W of energy, relies on an electrolyte liquid to carry power in and take heat out. IBM's ultimate goal, according to researcher Dr Bruno Michel, is to put a petaflop computer into a desktop pc by 2060. "We want to fit a supercomputer inside a sugar cube," he told the BBC. "To do that, we need a paradigm shift in electronics - we need to be motivated by our brain." IBM's solution, called the 'redox flow' system, involves chips interlayered with tiny water pipes. First a liquid - the electrolyte - is charged via electrodes. It is then pumped into the computer, where it discharges energy to the chip. A basic model was demonstrated this week at IBM's lab in Zurich by Dr Michel and his colleague Dr Patrick Ruch. The team will attempt to optimise the technology over the coming decades to achieve zettascale computing.