Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Rice University, United States, have successfully created a microchip that uses 30 times less electricity while running seven times faster than today’s best technology. The Rice-NTU team plans to follow its proof-of-concept work on encryption with proof-of-concept tests on microchips for cell phones, graphics cards and medical implants.
The microchip is a successful proof-of-concept of the PCMOS technology which has demonstrated an improvement of 30 times in terms of energy consumption while running seven times faster than the contemporary CMOS design.
This is in contrast with today’s silicon transistors become increasingly ‘noisy’ as they get smaller, thus engineers have historically dealt with this by boosting the operating voltage to overpower the noise to ensure accurate calculations, leading to higher energy consumption levels.
“With this PCMOS technology, noise/parameter variations are part of the overall design and are managed as a resource to achieve significant energy savings. Our vision is to see a new generation of probabilistic-based nanoelectronics with diverse applications in media, biomedical, information technology (IT) and consumer electronics. The success of this project would go a long way in promoting the advent of a new generation of ‘green’ IT at lower costs to consumers,” says Professor Yeo.
PCMOS is also ideally suited for encryption, a process that relies on generating random numbers. Thus the microchip can be quickly incorporated in electronic devices such as in computer gaming, lotteries and cryptography (internet security) where random calculations are valuable. “This is in addition to applications where there is a need to produce statistical simulation, such as in financial and economic forecast so that more accurate predictions can be made,” says Professor Yeo.
Equally important is that the implementation of PCMOS piggybacks on the current “complementary metal-oxide semiconductor” technology, or CMOS, that chipmakers already use. This means that chipmakers can use existing equipment to support PCMOS, resulting in lower entry costs for the new technology.
* The Straits Times, pg. A4 [PDF | 623 KB]
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* TODAY, pgs. 1 & 2 [PDF | 672 KB]
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* Berita Harian, pg.2 [PDF | 404 KB]