Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mano a Mano ala Chips

Lots of exciting stuff happening with chips these days, with regards to green computing. Let's start out with the new chip from Via, which cranks out 1.8Ghz at 20 watts. That's roughly the energy used by the human brain, and at 1.8Ghz that's enough to make we worried that maybe I will be replaced by a computer some day. I'm running for my computer-bashing club right now, that'll fix 'em.

This new chip is great on power, but not only that, the company that makes it will pay to offset the carbon emissions by funding energy conservation, reforestation, and alternative energy projects. Wow. That's what we are talking about. Now we just have to see if it catches on and others follow suit.

The definitive guide for chip comparisons based on performance per watt seems to be LostCircuits. Pretty comprehensive, including reviews, benchmarking, and a great many other things such as 'memory subsystems' and 'access latencies'. Ummm, tasty.

Finally, there is a lot of excitement around designing the chips of the future, particularly in regard to energy use. It turns out the most energy-intensive operation at the chip level is to destroy a bit in memory. So, if we minimize these operations, we can get chips that are vastly more efficient than the ones currently in production. The idea is called reversible computing, and there is a group at the University of Florida who are conducting research on designing these chips of the future. Look at the graphs to see where we are headed - all of Google's servers on a mobile phone!

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