Feeds

MIT and TI to produce low energy chips

Body-powered RFID just one exciting app

Security for virtualized datacentres

Boffins working at MIT and Texas Instruments believe they're on the road to new chip designs which consume significantly less power, promising a revolution in many fields of electronics. The research was funded by DARPA*, the US warboffinry bureau which considers that the only place for a walking tour is the wild side.

The joint MIT/TI team reckon that the new generation of chips could run on 0.3-volt power supplies rather than the 1-volt levels common today. MIT prof Anantha Chandrakasan believes that this will deliver an order-of-magnitude drop in power consumption, possibly allowing small devices such as medical implants to run on power generated from users' body heat.

"Memory and logic circuits have to be redesigned to operate at very low power supply voltages," said Chandrakasan, adding that further efficiencies were gained by placing a DC-to-DC voltage reducer on the chip alongside the redesigned circuitry.

DARPA are naturally interested in military applications, and uncharacteristically they seem to have gone for a relatively pedestrian solution rather than personal fuel cells or something. Battery life is becoming a serious concern in modern warfare, and troops must carry an increasing load of stored power. The panoply of communications, sensing and communications gadgetry used by modern soldiers could all benefit from increased-efficiency chips.

It also appears that the Pentagon tech-fanciers are interested in distributed acoustic sensor networks, and perhaps health monitors attached to soldiers' bodies. DARPA has reportedly funded the new chip research at MIT and TI to the tune of $700k, and intends to award more cash soon.

The US Army in particular is interested in lower-power electronics.

"The future Army is very robotic," Army tech chief Barry Perlman told AP.

"The soldier controls what goes on, but he doesn't have to put himself in harm's way. It saves lives."

Dennis Buss of TI thought that the new kit would have implications far beyond the military, however.

"These design techniques show great potential for products and applications including wireless terminals, RFID, battery-operated instrumentation, sensor networks, medical electronics and many others," he said.

"I think this is a very important next step in a trend that's been going on in our industry for the last four or five years," he said. "The industry has woken up to the fact that low power is very important."

Chandrakasan said that working apps could be ready "in five years in a number of exciting areas".

Body-powered RFID implants/stickers, anyone? ®

*The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple iPhone 6: Missing sapphire glass screen FAIL explained
They just cannae do it in time, says analyst
Slap my Imp up: Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper
Monsters need to earn a living too
Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK
Is EMBIGGENED Apple mobile REALLY that popular?
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
The Apple Watch and CROTCH RUBBING. How are they related?
Plus: 'NostrilTime' wristjob vid action
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.