PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Institute for Sustainable Nanoelectronics (ISNE) has announced that seed funding of $2.6 million from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will initiate a joint effort between NTU and Rice University aimed at lowering the cost and power consumption of embedded microchips by means of nanoscale solutions.
The centerpiece of this initiative is a probabilistic complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (PCMOS) invented by Rice researcher Krishna Palem, the architect of the ISNE initiative. PCMOS chips can tolerate nanoscale defects with a tunable numerical precision that trades-off errors for lower power consumption. Last year Palem demonstrated a cell phone display where no appreciable difference in picture quality could be detected by the naked eye even when the PCMOS was set to use five times less power than used by conventional embedded chips.
ISNE will capitalize on the fact that, for small screens, today's graphics chips are over-engineered. The brain's ability to clearly perceive less-than-perfect images enables PCMOS and similar nanoscale technologies to harness defects and produce indistinguishible results for less price and power. The ISNE charter also calls for platform independence in design methodologies so that other nanotechnologies, such as photonics, can similarly benefit from trading precision for lower cost and power.
Palem will direct his work with the International Network of Excellence from Rice University, having recently moved from the Georgia Institute of Technology. ISNE will also partner with Rice's new Value of Information-based Sustainable Embedded Nanocomputing Center (VISEN), which Palem recently established with seed funding from Rice.