Intel Released New Solar-Powered Chips

November 10, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. threshold (n.) [thresh-ohld] – the point that must be exceeded to produce a result or response
Example: The new device needs some changes to reach its electrical threshold.

2. round-the-clock (adj.) [round-thuh-klok] – at all times; throughout the day and night
Example: There are lots of round-the-clock stores in the city.
3. emanate (v.) [em-uh-neyt] – to give out or give off
Example: The smoke that emanates from cars and factories largely contributes to global warming.

4. flux (n.) [fluhks] – a constant or frequent change
Example: Prices of goods are in constant flux due to changes in oil price.

5. stepping stone (n.) [step-ping] – a situation that assists progress towards achieving a goal
Example: Learning from failure is an important stepping stone in achieving one’s dreams.

Read the text below.

Last September, Intel researchers released a new voltage processor that can run at super low energy.

This new processor, called “Claremont,” operates near threshold voltage, the voltage at which transistors turn on and conduct electricity. As such, its efficiency is increased while lowering energy consumption. In addition, this new invention does not overheat easily, making it advantageous for devices that run round-the-clock. Intel demonstrated the power of the new technology through an experiment in which a PC with a Linux OS was powered up using only a solar cell the size of a postage stamp.

With very low power requirement, the new technology can still be improved to create “zero-power” devices that can run using energy emanated in our surroundings, such as vibrations and wireless signals.

As devices become more mobile and lightweight, energy efficiency becomes a major concern of manufacturers. Currently, Intel faces tough competition with ARM, a low-power processor rumored to replace Intel as processor in Apple laptops and desktops. To catch up, Intel provided new improvements, such as Oak Trail processors and the Tri-Gate 3-D "Ivy Bridge" transistor, which is 30% more efficient than current processors.

Although “Claremont” shows high efficiency, it has problems with inaccurate performance, especially during electricity fluxes. Despite this, Intel researcher Sriram Vangal hopes that the new concept will be a stepping stone for future processor innovations.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         What would be the advantages and disadvantages of investing in these innovations?
·         Do you think people will patronize these devices? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think would happen if there was no competition among companies?
·         If you own a company, how would you be competitive?

November 10, 2011