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Barriers to Progress

Despite the hype about nanotechnology in general and nanocomputing in particular, a number of significant barriers must be overcome before any progress can be claimed.

Work is needed in all areas associated with computer hardware and software design:

  • Nanoarchitectures and infrastructure

  • Communications protocols between multiple nanocomputers, networks, grids, and the Internet

  • Data storage, retrieval, and access methods

  • Operating systems and control mechanisms

  • Application software and packages

  • Security, privacy, and accuracy of data

  • Circuit faults and failure management

Basically, we can divide the obstacles to progress into two distinct areas:

  • Hardware: the physical composition of a nanocomputer, its architecture, its communications structure, and all the associated peripherals

  • Software: new software, operating systems, and utilities must be written and developed, enabling very small computers to execute in the normal environment.

Hardware Barriers

A nanocomputer has to be constructed. Very few researchers are even close to achieving this goal. The process of self-replicating and building is nowhere near reality. The fundamental design of a nanocomputer has not even been proposed yet. No one has specified any realistic standards for architecture, CPU speeds/clock speeds, data formats. They simply don't exist in a real form. Work to achieve this goal will take substantial effort and may require from 15–25 years of work.

Software Barriers

Nanosoftware is not in much better shape. No architecture or hardware standards have been designed yet; it's very difficult to design software that will run on a computer that doesn't exist. Will we see Microsoft Windows products on a future nanocomputer? Unlikely. Entirely new operating systems must be designed and built for nanocomputers. Until there is a fundamental design in place with a basic architecture, very little software design can occur.

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