Tuesday May 22, 2018
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IBM announces densest, most powerful microchip in market

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San Francisco, Tech giant IBM has announced it has developed a new microchip for computers that is about four times more powerful that those currently in the market.

The firm said in a communiqué on Thursday that it was able to manufacture chips with components just seven nanometers wide — 1,000 times smaller than a red blood cell, Efe news agency reported.

The smallest components in computer chips to date are 14 nm in size, although the industry has already begun the transition to producing 10-nm chips.

Each new generation of chips is defined by the smaller size of its basic components.

IBM IBM-company-e1415979321352has manufactured the first prototypes of the chips in a laboratory and is currently exploring ways to produce them in its factories.

The firm said the new advances will enable it to produce chips containing 20 billion transistors, or switches, compared to the 1.9 billion on the Intel’s most advanced 14-nm chips.

The firm is making a big push to reduce the size of transistors and other microscopic components on its fingernail-sized chips, following a trend of increasing computer power — known as Moore’s Law.

The law — or, better said, observation — bears the name of Gordon Moore, one of the pioneers in developing silicon chips and the co-founder of Intel, and holds that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a densely integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.

The announcement made on Thursday by IBM means that the past exponential increase in computational power will continue apace for the next few years.

IBM said it was able to resolve development problems for the new chip by using silicon germanium — rather than just silicon — in key parts of the chip, something which makes it possible for even smaller elements in the chip to operate properly.

“For business and society to get the most out of tomorrow’s computers and devices, scaling to seven nm and beyond is essential,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice-president and director of IBM Research.

IBM and its partners, including Samsung, are planning to invest some $3 billion in a New York state manufacturing plant to produce the tiny seven-nm chips, making them available for installation in computers and other tech devices by 2017.  (IANS)

 

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Affordable IoT Devices can be Developed by Smart Microchips

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IoT devices will become affordable with the help of Microchips.
IoT devices will become affordable with the help of Microchips, Wikimedia Commons

A group of engineers has developed a smart microchip that can self-start and continue to operate even when the battery runs out of energy. This could help in manufacturing smaller and cheaper Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Called BATLESS, the smart microchip was developed by engineers from the National University of Singapore and is designed with a novel power management technique that allows it to self-start and continue to function under dim light without any battery assistance, using a very small on-chip solar cell.

Its functioning was presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2018 conference in San Francisco.

“We have demonstrated that batteries used for IoT devices can be shrunk substantially as they do not always need to be available to maintain continuous operation,” research leader Massimo Alioto said.

Read also: New Technology Developed to Study Marine Life

“Tackling this fundamental problem is a major advancement towards the ultimate vision of IoT sensor nodes without the use of batteries and will pave the way for a world with a trillion IoT devices,” Alioto added.

Currently, batteries in IoT devices are much larger and up to three times more expensive than the single chip they power.

A group of engineers has developed a smart microchip that can self-start and continue to operate even when the battery runs out of energy.
National University of Singapore, Wikimedia Commons

This research substantially reduces the size of batteries required to power IoT sensor nodes, making them 10 times smaller and cheaper to produce.

“BATLESS is the first example of a new class of chips that are indifferent to battery charge availability. In minimum-power mode, it uses 1,000 to 100,000 times less power, compared to the best existing microcontrollers designed for fixed minimum-energy operation,” Alioto added.

“At the same time, our 16-bit microcontroller can also operate 100,000 times faster than others that have been recently designed for fixed minimum power operation,” Alioto noted.

The research team aims to demonstrate a solution that shrinks the battery to millimetres with the long-term goal of completely eliminating the need for it. (IANS)

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