Indian-American designs energy efficient super microchip

February 10th, 2009 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) A team led by an Indian-American scientist has developed a superfast microchip that is seven times faster, but uses 30 times less energy than the best that technology has to offer today.

The technology, dubbed PCMOS (probabilistic complementary metal-oxide semiconductor), was invented by Krishna Palem, professor of Rice University and director, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Institute for Sustainable Nanoelectronics (ISNE), Singapore.

“Probabilistic design methodology, if used for consumer devices, would result in energy efficient devices,” said Palem.

“For consumers, it could mean the difference between charging a cell phone every few weeks instead of every few days. In addition to the encryption application that we have demonstrated…, it is equally well-suited for computer graphics,” he said.

Palem explained that in streaming video application on a cell phone for example, it is unnecessary to conduct precise calculations.

The small screen, combined with the human brain’s ability to process less-than-perfect pictures, results in a case where the picture looks just as good with a calculation that is only approximately correct.

This is in contrast with today’s silicon transistors becoming 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, said a Rice University release.

Krishna V. Palem has interests in adaptive architectures and computing, algorithms, compiler optimisations, embedded systems, low energy computing and nanoelectronics.

He did his Ph.D in August 1986 from University of Texas, Austin.

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