HP claims big step in tiny chips

Hewlett-Packard and University of California scientists have patented a process they said would eventually help turn out powerful computers that fit on the head of a pin with room to spare.

Scientists need to shrink computers to make them more powerful, but the technology of putting circuits on silicon, the basis of current computer chips, is reaching the natural limits of the wafers to hold circuits, turning up the pressure for a breakthrough.

Computer makers such as IBM and HP--with its University of California at Los Angeles partners--are racing to develop nanotechnology, which is based on parts a few atoms wide.

HP said it was ahead on designing a complex nanochip as well as the parts and could be making nanocomputers smaller than a bacterium, able to be weaved into a shirt, in the next decade or so.

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