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Electronic Design

Energy-Efficient Proof-Of-Concept IC Runs On 0.3 V

Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments have developed a proof-of-concept IC that operates at just 0.3 V, making it up to 10 times more energy-efficient than current technology. The techniques, demonstrated on TI’s MSP430 microcontroller, open up the possibly of greatly increased operating times for portable communications and networking devices, as well as implantable medical devices. The design will be presented at the ISSCC in San Francisco on Tuesday, Feb. 5. In addition to redesigning memory and logic circuits to run at very low supply voltages, the chip includes a dc-dc converter, which reduces the voltage to the lower operating voltage. Having the converter on board is more efficient than using an external converter. One of the biggest problems the team had to overcome was to ensure that the chip could handle the variations that typically occur during IC manufacturing. Commercial applications of the new technology could be available in five years in a number of areas, according to Professor Anantha Chandrakasan, who directs MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories. For implantable medical devices, the goal is to make the power requirements so low that the devices could be powered by “ambient energy,” using the body’s own heat or movement, said Chandrakasan. The research was funded in part by a grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Texas Instruments

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