Breaking the bounds of the clock on a processor may seem a daunting task to those brought up through a typical engineering program. Without the clock, how do you organize the chip and know when you have the correct data or instruction? We may have to take this task on very soon.
Clock speeds are now on the gigahertz range and there is not much room for speedup before physical realities start to complicate things. With a gigahertz powering a chip, signals barely have enough time to make it across the chip before the next clock tick. At this point, speedup the clock frequency could become disastrous. This is when a chip that is not constricted by clock speed could become very valuable.
Interestingly, the idea of designing a computer processor without a central controlling clock is not a new one. In fact, this idea was suggested as early as 1946, but engineers felt that this asynchronous design would be too difficult to design with their current, and by today’s standards, clumsy technology.
Today, we have the advanced manufacturing devices to make chips extremely accurate. Because of this, it is possible to create prototype processors without a clock. But will these chips catch on? A major hindrance to the development of clock less chips is the competitiveness of the computer industry. Presently, it is nearly impossible for companies to develop and manufacture a clock less chip while keeping the cost reasonable. Until this is possible, clock less chips will not be a major player in the market.