Chip Trades Precision for Power Usage

Sometimes, argues one engineer, close really is good enough
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2008 7:38 PM CST
Chip Trades Precision for Power Usage
Microchips, like this wafer of them, are prized for speed and accuracy. A new design trades some accuracy for a reduction in power usage.   (Getty Images)

Smaller, faster and more precise are the goals of engineers who design microchips, those tiny, power-hungry processors at the core of modern electronics. But a Rice University professor is going against the grain, trading a little bit of precision for a major savings in power, and potentially leading a revolution in how chips are manufactured, reports Technology Review.

Krishna Palem’s "probabilistic complementary metal-oxide semiconductor technology, “ or PCMOS, is ideal, he believes, for devices that rely less on computational accuracy than on brute force to process audio and video files.  To ensure precision, chips have traditionally run at high voltage; PCMOS chips use much less voltage, making them ideal for applications like music players and mobile phones where battery life is critical. (Read more microchips stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.