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Hardware Science Technology

Magnetic Transistor Could Cut Power Consumption and Make Chips Reprogrammable 126

ananyo writes "Transistors, the simple switches at the heart of all modern electronics, generally use a tiny voltage to toggle between 'on' and 'off.' The voltage approach is highly reliable and easy to miniaturize, but has its disadvantages. First, keeping the voltage on requires power, which drives up the energy consumption of the microchip. Second, transistors must be hard-wired into the chips and can't be reconfigured, which means computers need dedicated circuitry for all their functions. Now, researchers have made a type of transistor that can be switched with magnetism. The device could cut the power consumption of computers, cell phones and other electronics — and allow chips themselves to be 'reprogrammed' (abstract)."
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Magnetic Transistor Could Cut Power Consumption and Make Chips Reprogrammable

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  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @11:29PM (#42775563)

    one that requires voltage to keep it on, one that requires voltage to keep it off (P channel vs N channel FET's), ones that require current levels to keep it on and off (npn and pnp BJT's)

    so to say

    "First, keeping the voltage on requires power"

    is a broad statement, yea something that uses power requires power


    "Second, transistors must be hard-wired into the chips and can't be reconfigured"

    well yea, but we have long established configurations of transistors that can be reconfigured to suit needs, its called programable logic and spans the life of PAL's, GAL's, CLPD's, and upto FPGA's

    so, what exactly are you trying to tell me other than magnets can drop power consumption since they have a physical state memory, we already know that from core memory.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @05:10AM (#42776553)
    EEPROMs as flash RAM or firmware is old, very old. But the idea of a processor being field reprogrammable *is* new. It's so new, nobody has anything that would benefit yet. Think of something like Cisco booting based off the startup config, then optimizing the processors based on the config. Port 2 shutdown? Divert the gates to process something else. Want to be able to turn anything on and off without any delays? Then consider dynamic memory allocations. Not dynamic storage, the way everyone thinks, but looking at whether there are 64 bit requirements, and if not, programming it as parallel 32-bit CPUs for extra speed, and if 64-bit is requiring, booting up in 64-bit mode. Got an idle encryption ASIC? Now you have another general processor.

    You claim it is common, but has anyone ever released a CPU that changed dynamically? Rather than optimizing code for the CPU, optmize the CPU for the code. I see this being biggest in the area where ASICs are biggest, networking gear. Need more hardware encryption? Need more QoS profiles?