Chip Design Hardwires Security

New microprocessor architecture keeps hackers at bay without compromising security

2 min read

Computer security is war. Security experts are in a constant arms race against the ingenuity of hackers. What’s more, the security specialists are often working with one hand tied behind their backs because, unlike their adversaries, they are constrained by privacy ­concerns. But researchers at Princeton University have developed a new chip ­architecture that could one-up the hackers while easing the ­tension between the opposing poles of security and privacy.

Princeton electrical engineering professor Ruby B. Lee and her co-workers invented what she calls the Secret Protection computer architecture. Computers built using the new technology can receive sensitive information for a short time (designated by a trusted authority), after which the information is cleared out of the device that accessed it. Lee expects the first adopters of this architecture to be makers of devices for first responders, such as firefighters and EMTs. But, she says, it can be adapted to any mainstream microprocessor to prevent infection by worms and viruses and to theft-proof movies and other downloaded media.

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The Transistor of 2047: Expert Predictions

What will the device be like on its 100th anniversary?

4 min read
Six men and a woman smiling.

The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.


The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

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