http://www.cleveland.com/editorials/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1151138221251370.xml&coll=2 That's one quick chip Saturday, June 24, 2006 Imagine downloading an entire feature- length movie, with full picture quality, in five seconds. Click the mouse, blink a couple of times and voila, "The Da Vinci Code" is in your computer, ready for viewing. Thanks to a breakthrough by IBM and Georgia Tech, warp-speed personal computing could be a reality within a couple of years. Researchers just announced that they've built a silicon chip that obliterates existing technological speed records. The new chip operates at 500 gigaherz. That's 100 times faster than the chips used in today's computers - and 250 times faster than those in cell phones. The leap to commercial applications will take some time, because the team achieved these speeds only by subjecting the chip to extreme cold. At room temperature, the chip operated at 350 gigaherz - 350 billion cycles per second - still substantially faster than existing chips. The advance testifies to the value of collaborations between business and academia and also points to the possibilities inherent in globalization. One of the project's participants, a former IBM researcher, remains involved in the work even though he's now at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea. Some had begun to believe science had stretched the boundaries of chip speed as far as possible, but now researchers are talking about possibly doubling this week's record. Such optimism is heartening, particularly at a time when concern is growing about U.S. technological capabilities. The news has implications well beyond Hollywood; it could also help NASA with lunar research or improve automobile systems designed to avoid collisions. In addition, the developments could lower the costs of consumer electronics and even extend cell phone battery life. The research team isn't worrying about those applications, however. Now that they've gotten the chip to work so fast, they plan to try to figure out just how the darn thing works. Basic physics, they call it. Basic for them - and, as this week shows, good for us.