- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Solar-powered processor a glimpse of the future?
Question of the Day
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A solar cell the size of a stamp. That’s all Intel Corp. researchers needed to power a computer processor that could hold a tantalizing vision for the low-power chips of the future.
The company showed off the feat this week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco.
The achievement was less about the fact the chip ran on solar power and more about how Intel employees were able to create a chip that ran on little more than the power needed to turn on its transistors, the so-called “threshold” voltage.
Intel’s chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, said the experimental processor was 5 times more energy-efficient than today’s processors. But he emphasized that it is nowhere near ready for prime time.
The chip was based on a redesign of a Pentium processor that’s more than a decade old, and the underlying technology was so dated that employees needed to scour eBay for a motherboard to plug the chip into, he said.
The decision to base their work on an old chip design speaks to the difficulty of the engineering challenge.
The Pentium had a vastly simpler design than today’s chips, which made the task of redesigning nearly all of the circuits to work right at such low power a more manageable goal for a small team of researchers, Rattner said.
The point of the research was to demonstrate that extreme power savings are possible.
“People these days will kill for another 15 or 20 minutes of battery life, and here you’re saying you can improve battery life by a factor of 5 or 10,” Rattner said in an interview.
The chip itself was the only part of Intel’s demonstration computer that was solar-powered. The computer itself, which was running Windows, ran on regular electricity.
The concept of a solar-powered computer isn’t new, and there are already a slew of solar chargers for consumer electronics. But the promise of Intel’s research is that solar-powered processors could one day start tackling small projects, such as powering small sensors that communicate wirelessly with computers, and potentially be incorporated into more complicated computers to tackle bigger challenges.
“The applications are almost endless for it,” Rattner said.
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Sarah Palin's online channel hits snag as Stephen Colbert buys similar URL
- 'Big Bang' star Mayim Bialik helps send bulletproof vests to IDF
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world