February 5, 08
Researchers Invent Microchip That is 10X More Energy Efficient

Researchers at Texas Instruments and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have drawn the curtain back on an energy efficient chip design that they believe will lead to self-charging cellphones and dramatic advances in implantable medical technology.

A team of researchers at Cambridge, Mass.-based MIT and Dallas-based TI worked together to create a microchip that requires significantly less electricity than the industry standard of 1 volt. Their creation, which will be shown to the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, Calif. on Monday night, requires only 0.3 volts, a two-thirds reduction in required electricity.

In order for consumer technology to take advantage of the breakthrough, said MIT Professor Anatha Chandrakasan, memory and logic circuits will have to be redesigned due to the new chip's unique DC-to-DC power conversion, which takes place on the chip instead of through an external component. Products bearing the new chips could be available in five years.

TI and MIT researchers envision the breakthrough leading to cellphones that run off ambient energy; portable computing devices with vastly improved running times; and medical implants that are powered simply by body heat and movement.

"We are proud to be part of this revolutionary, world-class university research," said Dr. Dennis Buss, chief scientist at Texas Instruments.