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Superconducting Microprocessors? Turns Out They're Ultra-Efficient

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The AQFP-based MANA microprocessor seated on a chip holder.

The AQFP-based MANA microprocessor contains over 20,000 superconductor Josephson junctions.

Credit: Christopher Ayala

Researchers at Japan's Yokohama National University (YNU) report the creation of the first prototype superconducting microprocessor, which they said has no electrical resistance.

The Monolithic Adiabatic iNtegration Architecture (MANA) microprocessor was fabricated from superconducting niobium and relies on adiabatic quantum-flux-parametrons (AQFPs) that constitute more than 20,000 Josephson junctions.

YNU's Christopher Ayala said the AQFPs “have been optimized to operate adiabatically such that the energy drawn from the power supply can be recovered under relatively low clock frequencies up to around 10 GHz. This is low compared to the hundreds of gigahertz typically found in conventional superconductor electronics."

Ayala added that the AQFP is approximately 80 times more energy efficient than state-of-the-art semiconductor electronics, even when accounting for the cryogenic cooling needed to maintain the MANA microprocessor's superconducting temperatures.

From IEEE Spectrum
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