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Surprising Science

Green Microchips Are Faster

Researcher at Rice University, Krishna Palem has found that “pruning” away the little-used circuits on microchips can double the energy efficiency and computing speed of the chips.

Microchips installed in multimedia devices like hearing aids and cameras can be made more efficient and much faster by trimming off unnecessary portions of the circuitry. Accuracy in the devices, however, is reduced. “The result of this less-accurate computing process is much greater efficiency. By cleverly managing the probability of errors and by limiting which calculations produce errors, the designers have found they can simultaneously cut energy demands and boost performance.”


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