Eco Factor: Energy-saving processors to boost computing power consuming negligible energy.
Not so long ago our computers relied on single-core chips that had to be boosted for performance, which eventually turned the machine into a heating system, requiring loads of energy to keep churning the bits and bytes. Researchers at IBM Research Lab, EPFL and ETH Zurich are working on ecofriendly chips that are much more powerful but consume a negligible amount of energy.
The research team is working to develop 3D chips, where the cores aren’t placed side-by-side as in current multi-core processors, but are rather stacked vertically. The advantage of the design is that the cores can be connected through 100 to 10,000 connections per square millimeter, to ensure that data transfer is 10 times faster and there is a significant reduction in energy consumption and heat.
Although the chips will use less energy and generate less heat, they will still warm up. The research team is developing a revolutionary cooling system which features channels as thin as human hair inserted between each core layer and filled with a cooling liquid, which exits the circuit as vapor, liquefied by a condenser and finally pumped back into the processor.
The initial prototypes should be installed by 2015, while the more advanced chips with integrated cooling system should be available by 2020.