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Progress Hits Snag: Tiny Chips ­se Outsize Power

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A research team recently presented a paper at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture that highlights the problem of developing smaller, more densely packed transistors to continue the rapid development of electronic devices. The paper, co-authored by Microsoft Research's Doug Burger, who chairs ACM SIGARCH, says that soon the most advanced chips will have so many transistors that it will be impractical to simultaneously power them all, producing a situation in which some of the transistors are left without power while the others are working.

The problem has the potential to disprove Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors that can fit on a chip will double about every two years. However, some researchers say the problem will be solved.

"The good news is that the old designs are really inefficient, leaving lots of room for innovation," says NVIDIA chief scientist William J. Dally. For example, Intel recently developed a way to vary the power consumed by different parts of a processor, enabling slower and less power-consuming transistors and faster-switching cores to work simultaneously. Intel says that future chips will have different cores for specific problems, only some of which will require high power.

From The New York Times
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