updated 12:20 pm EST, Wed February 6, 2008
Ultra-efficient MIT chip
Researchers have developed a new technology, being demonstrated this week at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, which is said to dramatically improve the battery life of cellphones and other portable electronics. MIT and Texas Instruments claim they have developed a new chip design which is up to 10 times as efficient as current ones, thanks mainly to a DC-to-DC converter which helps reduce necessary voltage. Where many chips need 1V of power, Prof. Anantha Chandrakasan of MIT notes that testing at his university has a chip running at 0.3V.
Although use of the technology in commercial products may be five years away or more, it may have significant impact on the mobile electronics industry. Many cellphones deplete their batteries rapidly when using wireless options such as 3G or Bluetooth, hurting practicality. Likewise, devices such as the iPhone are using increasingly large touchscreens.
The military may be able to use the design for sensor networks in armor or the battlefield, and Chandrakasan believes that power requirements for the technology may be so low, some medical implants may be able to recharge automatically through body heat or kinetic energy.