At the Intel Developer Forum, Intel's director of research admitted that silicon chips would inevitably give way to the next phase in computer evolution, subminiature or molecular technologies including quantum computing. He insisted, though, that the big change is not on the immediate horizon, even though Intel researchers are watching these developments closely.
Rice University professor Jim Tour is not so pessimistic. He predicts prototype molecular components, probably memory, within as short a time as 18 months. Tour talks about processors thousands of times faster than the Pentium4 and chips with millions of times more memory than Compaq makes in a year, using a fraction of the power of current machines, with price tags as small as their size. Dr. Tour co-founded Molecular Electronics Corp., with the cooperation of Yale University and Pennsylvania State University, and the company has filed for patents based on their university-funded research. Hewlett-Packard is working in nanotech with UCLA, while Motorola, Hitachi and IBM are researching nanotech computing internally.