back to article Microfluidic processor brings us one step closer to a future of squishy DNA computing

Boffins at the Incheon National University have made what they claim to be a breakthrough in computing: a programmable processor which uses DNA, rather than electronics, to perform its computation. The Microfluidic Processing Unit (MPU) developed by the team is, it claimed, a step forward in simplifying DNA computing – a …

  1. Adair Silver badge

    Better programing technicques...

    well there's a thought! :-D

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Better programing technicques...

      Would that include relegating javascript to the dustbin of history?

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Re: Better programing technicques...

        One can only hope.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It has to be a disadvantage if a single bug can eat your entire computer.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Dependency injection

    Is going to mean something different.

    Once we get accustomed to biennal vaccinations, a "software" update on top of that will not face much protest. Especially after the first update becomes successful ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  4. electrofan

    is it just me or it sometimes feels like we're already 20 years into the future?

    If it makes any sense..

  5. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge

    Basic computer

    The prototype MPU is, admittedly, basic, offering only AND, OR, XOR, and NOT operations

    You are aware that every digital computing device is implemented with the AND, OR and NOT functions, I assume? Indeed these are the only functions required for digital computing.

    With sufficient gates offering those functions you can get arbitrary complexity.

    XOR is not a base function in Boolean algebra -> Y = (A AND NOT B) OR (B AND NOT A) where Y is the output, A and B are the inputs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Basic computer

      The question is whether it is significantly harder to build a processor from DNA than in a conventional way. So far as I'm concerned, the spiralling shape will make you go insane...

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Basic computer

      I think the point is that so far all they can create is a few logic gates. This research demonstrates that cascading calculations through multiple gates is possible, but it looks as though there would be serious constraints on how far that could be taken. Some of those may be just engineering problems - it's slow, results can be either read or passed to another gate but not both, and various other things. But the fundamental nature of the reactions means that the DNS strands being used change in each step. For the AND gate, you start off with 20 base pairs in each input, and get 40 out at the end. After passing through a second gate, you now have 80 base pairs in the output (figure 8 in the paper). This would seem to be a pretty big problem, literally, if you want to have billions of gates operating together.

      So it's not so much that it's only a basic computer because it only offers a few logic gates, but because it only offers those gates with no clear path for how you could build a functional computer out of them. When the transistor was first invented, it was pretty obvious that you could build huge networks of them, even without knowing exactly which direction the technology to do so would end up going. In this case, it's not at all clear that it will be possible to build such networks at all. The hope is there, but it's not just a case of figuring out how to do it, but figuring out if it's possible at all.

  6. Securitymoose

    Would your computer become senile with natural aging?

    I know our current systems wear out eventually, but how would you know, if you were using a DNA machine? Weren't there a couple of sci-fi films exploring this concept? (Dark Star comes to mind)

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