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Near-Threshold Computing Could Enable Up to 100x Reduction in Power Consumption

University of Michigan (UM) researchers are developing near-threshold computing (NTC) technology, which could allow electronic devices to operate at lower voltages than normal. The researchers say that NTC could enable future computer systems to reduce energy requirements by 100 times or more.

NTC allows for advanced scaling of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) devices, while improving energy efficiency. "The major impact of the work is that, for a fixed battery lifetime, significantly more transistors can be used, allowing for greater functionality," says UM professor Ronald Dreslinksi. NTC also could help decrease power requirements without overturning the entire CMOS framework. Operating at near-threshold voltages could allow devices to require less energy while minimizing energy leakage.

The researchers say that NTC could have nearly universal applications in data centers and personal computing. NTC also could be useful in sensor-based systems. By reducing the power requirements by up to 100 times in sensors, NTC could lead to future sensor designs.

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