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The new microchipped skis are designed to take the guesswork out of waxing (Photo: Madshus...

The waxing of cross-country skis can be a tricky business. Not only do you have to determine the proper hardness for the snow conditions, but you also need to make sure that the grippy kick wax and the more slippery glide wax each end up being applied to the proper sections of the ski. Norwegian ski manufacturer Madshus has set out to simplify the process, with microchip-equipped skis.  Read More

As a one-atom thick topological insulator, stanene could conduct electricity at full effic...

A team of theoretical physicists from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University is predicting that stanene, a single layer of tin atoms laid out in a two-dimensional structure, could conduct electricity with one hundred percent efficiency at room temperature. If the findings are confirmed they could pave the way for building computer chips that are faster, consume less power, and won't heat up nearly as much.  Read More

Physicists at the University of Cambridge have used spintronics to move data between layer...

A major obstruction to the development of practical 3D microchips is moving data and logic signals from one layer of circuitry to another. This can be done with conventional circuitry, but is quite cumbersome and generates a good deal of heat inside the 3D circuit. Physicists at the University of Cambridge have now developed a spintronic shift register that allows information to be passed between different layers of a 3D microchip.  Read More

A cross-section transmission electron micrograph of the tiny new transistor

As there is a finite number of transistors that can be effectively packed onto a silicon chip, researchers have been searching for an alternative to silicon that would allow integrated circuit development to continue to keep pace with Moore's Law. Researchers at MIT have recently used indium gallium arsenide to create the smallest transistor ever built from a material other than silicon. The new transistor, which is said to “work well,” is just 22 nanometers long and is a metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), which is the kind typically used in microprocessors.  Read More

Microchip Technologies has developed the world's first gesture recognition chip based on m...

The smallest gesture can hide a world of meaning. A particular flick of a baton and a beseeching gesture can transform the key moment of a concert from mundane to ethereal. Alas, computers are seriously handicapped in understanding human gestural language, both in software and hardware. In particular, finding a method for describing gestures presented to a computer as input data for further processing has proven a difficult problem. In response, Microchip Technologies has developed the world's first 3D gesture recognition chip that senses the gesture without contact, through its effect on electric fields.  Read More

IBM researcher Hongsik Park examines a wafer packed with carbon nanotubes

Silicon’s reign as the standard material for microchip semiconductors may be coming to an end. Using standard semiconductor processes, scientists from IBM Research have succeeded in precisely placing over 10,000 working transistors made from carbon nanotubes onto a wafer surface – and yes, the resulting chip was tested, and it worked. According to IBM, “These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturization of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics.”  Read More

A prototype “inexact” computer chip that is around 15 times more efficient than current mi...

Last year, a team of U.S. researchers applied the pruning shears to computer chips to trim away rarely used portions of digital circuits. The result was chips that made the occasional mistake, but were twice as fast, used half as much energy, and were half the size of the original. Now, building on the same “less is more” idea, the researchers have built an “inexact” prototype silicon chip they claim is at least 15 times more efficient than current technology in terms of speed, energy consumption and size.  Read More

IBM's prototype 5.2 x 5 .8 mm Holey Optochip

Last Thursday at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles, a team from IBM presented research on their wonderfully-named “Holey Optochip.” The prototype chipset is the first parallel optical transceiver that is able to transfer one trillion bits (or one terabit) of information per second. To put that in perspective, IBM states that 500 high-def movies could be downloaded in one second at that speed, while the entire U.S. Library of Congress web archive could be downloaded in an hour. Stated another way, the Optochip is eight times faster than any other parallel optical components currently available, with a speed that’s equivalent to the bandwidth consumed by 100,000 users, if they were using regular 10 Mb/s high-speed internet.  Read More

Researchers are designing chips that are faster and more energy-efficient than conventiona...

If you had to use a commuting bicycle in a race, you would probably set about removing the kickstand, fenders, racks and lights to make the thing as fast and efficient as possible. When engineers at Houston’s Rice University are developing small, fast, energy-efficient chips for use in devices like hearing aids, it turns out they do pretty much the same thing. The removal of portions of circuits that aren’t essential to the task at hand is known as “probabilistic pruning,” and it results in chips that are twice as fast, use half the power, and are half the size of conventional chips.  Read More

The die for CRISP's self-repairing chip (Image: CRISP)

As chips continue to get smaller, the technological possibilities just get larger. One of the trade-offs of miniaturization, however, is that smaller things are also often more fragile and less dependable. Anticipating a point at which chips will become too tiny to maintain their current level of resilience, a team of four companies and two universities in The Netherlands, Germany, and Finland have created what they say could be the solution – a chip that monitors its own performance, and redirects tasks as needed.  Read More

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