These devices are expected to reduce the power consumption of servers at data centers by about 30 percent and should also minimize the power consumed by air-conditioning units as the semiconductors will suppress heat generation.
The devices will use less power while providing extremely high data transfer speeds, enabling manufacturers to equip smartphones with the same central processing units typically found in personal computers. Experts say it will also be possible to create smartphones with battery lives that last twice as long as those available in the marketplace.
Manufacturers are competing to make semiconductors smaller and more efficient. To reduce their size, the wiring of lines on the circuit boards of these devices must be narrowed.
Experts agree that the width between these lines must be at least one millimeter. But a group of companies including Hitachi are attempting to reduce the width to 0.1 millimeter by replacing the circuit board lines with optical interconnectivity typically found in products such as digital cameras. Optical technology will enable manufacturers to produce semiconductors that are one hundred times smaller than their current size.
If next-generation semiconductors are developed, experts say they are expected to reduce power consumption by 130 billion kilowatts per hour in 2030. This is about 13 percent of the electricity generated by 10 Japanese power companies in fiscal 2009, which was about 1 trillion kilowatts per hour.
There is increasing global competition between manufacturers developing optical technology as they believe it is key to producing next-generation semiconductors. IBM Corp. of the United States has announced it will have next-generation semiconductors in IT equipment in 2020.
Japanese companies such as Hitachi plan to produce trial products by completing the required technological developments by fiscal 2019. They aim to utilize optical technology to revive the Japanese semiconductor industry, which has been faring badly against South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. To support domestic research and development, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry will offer subsidies of about 30 billion yen over 10 years starting in fiscal 2012. (Daily Yomiuri Online)