Future Computers may use Green Chips

Darren Whitaker -

Magnetic microprocessors may use upto a million times less energy than current silicone technology.

These tiny magnets allow for the minimum energy consumption allowed by the laws of physics, say University of California, electrical engineers.

Today’s technology relies on moving electrical currents, but the new technology uses nanometer-sized bar magnets (tiny versions of the magnets we all know from primary school) for logic & memory and in theory this will require no moving electrons.

The new chips would dissipate the minimum amount of energy allowed by the second law of thermodynamics called the Landauer limit.

This is a miniscule 18 millielectron volts of energy per operation, that’s a whole one million times less than that of today’s computers.

The work is being carried out under Jeffrey Bokor, UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences.

Bokor is co-director of the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S), a Science and Technology Center which was founded just last year with a $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The aim of the work is to build computers which operate at the Landauer limit.

Bokor says: “Even if we could get within one order of magnitude, a factor of 10, of the Landauer limit, it would represent a huge reduction in energy consumption for electronics. It would be absolutely revolutionary.”

The work is on-going, but promising advances mean the ultimate goal may not be too far away. The work supported by NSF and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency outlines the focus within the scientific community to “green up” technology.

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