Scientists at University of Manchester have developed a ‘magical computer’ that can grow as they compute.
By using DNA rather than traditional computer chips, the scientists from the University of Manchester, said that a single desktop computer could potentially utilise more processors than all the electronic computers in the world combined.
The university is famous for its connection with wartime code-breaker Alan Turing, regarded as the founder of computer science.
Professor Ross King and his team have demonstrated for the first time the feasibility of engineering a nondeterministic universal Turing machine (NUTM).
Their research is to be published in the prestigious Journal of the Royal Society, Interface.
A spokesman at the university said: “The theoretical properties of such a computing machine, including its exponential boost in speed over electronic and quantum computers, have been well understood for many years.
But the Manchester breakthrough demonstrates that it is actually possible to physically create a NUTM using DNA molecules.
“Imagine a computer is searching a maze and comes to a choice point, one path leading left, the other right. Electronic computers need to choose which path to follow first,” explained King.
“But our new computer doesn’t need to choose, for it can replicate itself and follow both paths at the same time, thus finding the answer faster,” he added.
This ‘magical’ property is possible because the computer’s processors are made of DNA rather than silicon chips. All electronic computers have a fixed number of chips.
The researchers further explained: “As DNA molecules are very small a desktop computer could potentially utilize more processors than all the electronic computers in the world combined — and therefore outperform the world’s current fastest supercomputer, while consuming a tiny fraction of its energy.”
Alan Turing’s greatest achievement was inventing the concept of a universal Turing machine (UTM) — a computer that can be programmed to compute anything any other computer can compute.
Electronic computers are a form of UTM, but no quantum UTM has yet been built.