Cogitator (Computer) Technology

posted: 12th Aug, 2007 - updated: 16th Jun, 2016

Ghost in the Shell

The Adeptus Mechanicus make use of 'computer' technologies, referred to collectively as 'cogitators', that were developed during the Dark Age of Technology. With in this era, the Golden Age of the Machine, cogitator science developed far beyond what we know today. A cogitator is thought to personify the machine spirit (Spiritus Machina), a term referring to the design and function as being 'in the spirit of the Artilects' and an expression of 'good design', it also refers to the warp image that some advanced machines generate, where a good design leads to a cooperative warp image and increased reliability.

Our modern day electronic processors used within computers are considered the bare minimum required for some form of faux-cogitator function. In essence a computer 'computes' whereas a cogitator 'thinks'. In the far future these wonders of transistors technology are thought of as a 'transitory technology'; archaic and sub-standard. On many worlds that have be claimed by one of the Imperium's institutions the Adeptus Mechanicus have even gone as far as to outlaw electronics! The Adeptus Mechanicus make use of systems that are several generation ahead of our 'state-of-the-art'.


Artifice (non-Biology)

This section covers early transitory technologies from before the Dark Age of Technology. The common trait among these technologies is that they are directly manufactured and not built by proxies (as later technologies make heavy use of bionite proxies). This includes some technologies that we are familiar such as electronics but also some future technologies, based on photonics, that are only now starting to be developed. There are several generations of directly manufactured cogitator technology before the great leap to full proxy built systems in the latter half of the 23rd century.


The Mechanical Cogitator Engine (Differential Analyser) is an analogue computer for solving complex differential equations. Unlike the massive multi-ton engines of Terra's distant pass, often these machines are nano-tech and are the size of a postage stamp.

Notes: These machines are resistant to EMP.

Electronics (silicon CPU - Silica Animus)

Semi-conductor based technology that first appeared during the later half of the twentieth century. It lead to early cogitator system with limited reasoning ability know as a 'computer', with a central processor known as a silicon chip. Built to standard templates and standard components it was the earliest forerunner of the STC concept.

Issues: Electronic are very delicate and high susceptible to EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) from nuclear weapons detonations and to ESD (ElectroStatic Discharge) and hard to be 'hardened' against such weakness with specialist casings. However their greatest flaw is their incompatibility to function correctly when in the presence of an operating phase field technologies (such as Void Shields). There is no way to harden electronic system against phase influence.

Notes: It is for this reason that Electronics are prohibited technology by Adeptus Mechanicus decree within the Imperial infrastructure. Electronics are not used within any of the Imperium's organisations, though such base and primitive technology is still found on new claimed 'technology renaissance' worlds.


Optoelectronic [Laser]: The hybrid silicon laser/ silicon photonic based central processor is the first recorded use photonic links moving away from the electronic links (Note: Start photonic stream)

Optoelectronic [Resonator]: Comprising both photonic and electronic circuitry using micro-ring resonators to delay photonic signals (Note: stop/ delay photonic stream)

Optoelectronic [Hybrid]: Utilising both the above Optoelectronic technologies in the same chip, drastic reduction in electronic signal components. All processor interconnects are bonded optical-fibre paths, as are the connections between a Cell processor's PE (Processing Element) and SPCs (Synergistic Processing Element) utilising the hybrid silicon laser tech. All Elements (PE and SPE) are still predominantly electronic in nature.

Issues: Share similar shortcomings as Electronics due to CMOS technology and though more resilient to phase-field interference, they do suffer anomalies. Prohibited by the Adeptus Mechanicus for use in the majority of Imperial military organisations, though the are used for not essential systems such as public display/ info tech.

Notes: The Tau use these technologies and this is the reason they are less than effective is due to Adeptus Mechanicus phase-field jamming systems,


Silicon Photonics: A silicon and (pre-cursor) crystal tech hybrid expanding on the previous Optoelectronic technologies where all electric signals are replaced with photonic signals. This is the first implementation of crystal refraction gates replacing the last of the electronic signalling components. It was built on a silicon substrate

Resistant to EM and slightly resistant to power field interference.

Example: CDs, data crystals and all holographic memory are laser based and can be coupled to photon systems powered via high-yield luminescent cells similar to OLEDs (Organic light-emitting diode). Also all screens on a base level could be OLED, though I think in 40K they have a more sophisticated version. As for internal looks, (if you pop open a 40K CD player equivalent) I'm guessing a blocks of bio-plastic sheeting and armoured fibre-optics. This has a nice look, bathed in a green or orange light.

Pure Crystal Photonics

This technology is similar to the above though its manufacture and refinement was vastly superior. It used a carbon crystal substrate and could be build up in layers to form complex chips and gave rise to the name 'stacked atomic chains'. The crystal tech was adaptive and could switch connecting to form new path routes within a net system.

Hybrid (Grown - Proxy build)

Organo-Crystal Hybrid: Basically Pure Crystal Photonic built in stages with various Bionite (Biological nanites or Proteins) baths and finally enclosed in a maintenance bio-wrapper. The organic component allows for far more complex design, greater network restructuring and enables auto-repair of the system for increased fault tolerance. The power used in the systems is greatly reduced and in later generations the organic diodes powered by electrocytes are replaced with bioluminescent cells.

All this biomatter had to be feed and a specially developed solution called Sucrosol, an artificial blood that was clear to milky white (starch?) in colour. The Sucrosol was reprocessed in a number of polymer photosynthetic cells powered by crystal batteries and OLEDs.

Issues: Can die if run out of power, through the network will remain intact (like a skeleton). Reworking the biology will allow the system to power up and function again.


Artificial Biology (Grown)

Eventually the Organo-Crystal technology advanced to the point that is could be completely grown (emergent property) from start to finish in a single bath, without further intervention. Thus it became a 'biology' of it's own and technically re-classed as a life-form (not full status due to reproduction restraints). Bio-Photonics are the first life form created by the Artilects, though this life form could not breed and could only reproduce through division (It was effectively a collective bacteria/ slime mould), how cultures could be taken.

Bio-Photonics [Governed: Logista Corpus/ Legio Cybernetica]

Bio-Photonics uses Bioluminescent and photosensitive cells interconnected with a organo-crystal bio-fibre in place of natural biology's nerves. The synapses are bundles of refractor gates, built on and graphene based nodes, where each node is a complex processor. Nodes can vary greatly in size. In these bio-photonic systems the artificial biology builds the photonic system circuits from scratch and maintains them. The complete self contained system is called a Cortex.

Cortex: A Cortex computer function in much the same way as a mammal brain only much faster in its processing and recognition. As the Cortex doesn't grow as part of a system as a human child would grown into an adult and learn as it did so, to to get it up and running in as short a time as possible it is given a personality imprint. This personality Imprint is similar to the Adeptus Mechanics' Implant technology only far more extensive and evade every part of the mind. Once imprinted the Cortex is fully functional and is able to think and act as the Imprint. A Cortex imprinted with the mind of a dog may recognise it's user the way a dog recognises it's master.

Example: For a security system the Cortex would be imprinted with a simulated Rottweiler personality! Add in a quad array of auto-tracking guns for 'teeth' and you have a pretty good secure system - try hacking that!

Due to the Adeptus Mechanicus' strict rules of Artificial Intelligence all Cortex designs are modelled after lower animals with restriction on the frontal lobes. This is to stop a Cortex mind from becoming truly self aware and sentient.

The imprinted personality is one instance of a 'machine spirit' and would explain why humans and Ad-Mec who use them have to be nice to them and keep them on side. It's like petting your dog, if you neglect it or abuse it, it may turn on you (not too good if it is armed to the teeth!). Just imagine the guns popping up and tracking you on a secure system as much the same why a dog's ears prick up when they hear something interesting like their master approaching.

Bio-Plastic Chips: Slivers of 'Cortex' sandwiched between two organo-plastic sheets. Forms a pre-processor and buffer interface between the cortex and isolated permanent holo-storage.

Example: Robot 'programs' and info dump - referred to a wet-ware.

Brain Scan

Natural Biology (Grown)






Engineered Biology (Grown)

This is natural based biology that has be re-designed and processed to meet specific needs. It is much slower than Bio-Photonics yet much easier to replicate. These systems are usually used as sub-systems and rarely built into a primary system known as a cortex.

Reprocessed biology: Natural biology striped of it's humanity and reprogrammed

Example: Servitors

Building a Cortex or bio-plastic based chip with photo connections for a cogitator is a bit beyond our capabilities even today! Even a simple cogitator is impossible to make using our current technology. The Ad-Mec are well aware of people trying to steal their technology and so if possible they with substitute in natural/ engineered biology;

Example of reprocessed flesh replacement: In a security system the bio-plastic recognition chip is replaced with a much bulkier surgically altered an re-imprinted real Rottweiler (dog) brain.

'Replicant' biology: (vast grown) replacement parts and stock sub-systems.

Example: Geneseeds, Implant technology (Electrografts).

Hybrid (Cybernetics)

Natural/ Bio-Photonic (Bionic Bridge): A spin-off development of the formative version of the organo-wrapper found in Organo-Crystal Hybrid technology though it lacks the photonic elements. A hybrid technology incorporating artificial brain elements feed with energy via Sucrosol (with Sucrosol > Blood exchanges), and natural biology interface. The whole lot can be contained within a human and powered via blood. The bridge is used to link the human mind to a bio-photonic system, acting as a translation buffer and isolation safety.

Example: Adeptus-Mechanicus interface implants.

Phase Fields (Grown) [Artificial Psionics]

P-Field Emitters: Are constructed from bio-photonic systems - mostly bio-plastic with photonic control systems, a nutrient delivery system and liquid cooling. The ability to phase an area is down to a psyker power brought about by certain thought patterns within the artificial mind. The Artificial mind is imprinted with a thought process and locked in continuous loop which generate the Psyker effect.

The machine generated power draws energy from the materium and so always retains the link to the materium for this energy supply. This means the generated power is limited, and can not breach the great barrier as doing so would sever the link the the energy source creating the power (see warp engine below).

The Psyker generated power draws its energy from the warp, and therefore is unlimited in the power available and the power can go beyond the great barrier with ease. The limiting factor is the power of the Psyker mind to control the energies. (in any ways the Psyker mind shared many similarities with the warp engine in set up, though the Psyker mind is far more complex and sophisticated).

Machines are fixed, and can only generate the single power they were design for, Psykers on the other hand can change the type of powers they can generate at will, and modify and adjust the power on the fly. This means they can affect a machine power, but the machine power can't affect the Psyker as the Psyker can shift the power out of the machine's fixed range.

Transparent Technology Interfaces

Add later: Direct link technology, head jack to Implant.

Peripheral Technologies

No monitors as we know them.


Super advanced.

Use metal for ideological reasons.

True bionics look and work just like a human arm and in a similar way (muscle wire)

Cheaper rejuvenation treatments are bionic based, whole bodies can be replaced (dual blood system, red to brain, white to body). Functions much like a human body and can eat and digest food! Muscle wire is very space efficient and is powered of a layer of 'battery-fat' which can be charged via a plug (belly button port). Some 'fat' Nobles are not what they seem, and can fantastically strong, The extra 'fat' is extended run battery-fat layer to allow a noble to function without having to recharge for several weeks at moderate activity. Because only the brain and 'wrapper' runs of bio-fuel, calorie intake need is drastically reduced.

Display Materials

// Design notes: High-Tech books and scrolls mixed with low tech, chemical/ DNA signatures etc.//




Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED)

This is organic display technology, using stacked OLEDs. A refined version of OLED technology being developed today. Considered an archaic display technology (the Ad-Mec preferring cortex imaging/ virtual reality). It can be printed or painted onto surfaces and incorporated into 'e-paper' to display moving images.

A painted surface (applied with a roller) self-orders so the upper layer becomes the emitting layer. It is then shocked with electrodes, in a precise timed order, to arrange the layers and connect the contacts. This is done in the 'ritual of initiation'. Once complete the 'paint' can display a set or moving image.

Display technology (Dynamic e-paper)

The Imperium of 40K makes great use of an advanced form of 'e-paper'. It is a primary recording medium of all institutions outside the Adeptus Mechanicus. It does not require a charge to maintain the information, the information is displayed in human readable language and not machine language in a computer file.

E-paper can be written on normally with ink, but this is not the intent, as it is designed to be used with a special stylus (Quill). To activate the paper it has to be placed in a charging frame. Charging frames come in many forms, some can take a single page (i.e. for form filling) and others can be very ornate and can take a whole 'book' (and simply attach to the spine*). The charging frame is security controlled and requires an encrypted password of thousands of characters. This password is transmitted by the stylus, and the stylus can only be activated via DNA touch (your have to hold it, or be attached in some way, i.e. via an auto-writer).

* Breaking the spine on one of this books is a quick way to destroy it, and seeing as Librarians in 40K are uber Psyker marines of death, citizens of the Imperium are very careful with books. Very careful. Destroying a sanctioned Imperial book carries a penalty of death.

Once in the correct charging frame the e-paper becomes active, and while in this mode is very much like a word processor on the ancient pre-Dark Age of Technology 'tablet PC'. Indeed many function on a PC can be done on e-paper included spreadsheets, auto-calculations etc. It can even display moving pictures, and many Illuminated Manuscripts really come to live in their charging frame, with illustrations acting as embedded movie clips.

Once the e-paper is removed from it's frame it freezes 'as is'. It becomes static and can not be changed while out of it's frame.

Note: Some Inquisitor secret e-paper documents can only be seen once in a charging frame, but they will turn black if put into a charging frame without the correct passwords, and often corrupt the charging frame with a potent machine micro-spirit (computer virus, also known as a 'gremlin').

Sunlight: Some ePaper has a built in solar cell layer and can covert light into the energy needed to power the ePaper. This means in light conditions the ePaper will come to life.


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