Low-Cost Low-Power Screen from Dream Jobber Jepsen

Pixel Qi, a new company from IEEE 2007 Dream Jobber Mary Lou Jepsen, has announced that it will jump into the screen business with low-cost low-power e-paper, to debut in products this fall.

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Low-Cost Low-Power Screen from Dream Jobber Jepsen

Mary Lou Jepsen, profiled in IEEE Spectrum’s 2007 special report on dream jobs for engineers, designed the screen for the little green XO computer intended to blanket the world as the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. The OLPC effort didn’t quite play out as exactly as planned, though production began recently. (Earlier this year the organization cut half its staff and announced a change in strategy to open source hardware.)

But that wasn’t the fault of Jepsen’s screen. The screen, reviewers agreed, was revolutionary. Oh, sure, it could have been bigger, the resolution in color mode could have been better, but its low power consumption, visibility in bright light, and dual color and black and white modes were standouts.

Jepsen has a for-profit company now, Pixel Qi, a fabless designer of screens that just completed its first round of funding in March. Pixel Qi has announced that its low-cost low-power screen technology will be shipping this fall as part of e-book readers and netbooks, a sort of e-paper capable of video as well as static images. This generation of the technology will be bigger—10-inches, compared with the OLPC’s 7.5-inch screen—and better. Meanwhile, the company says it is working on a version capable of HDTV resolution.

I can’t wait to see it.

Photo: Pixel Qi (left) vs. Kindle
Credit: Pixel Qi


The Conversation (0)
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Emily Cooper

Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

Along this journey, we engineers had to change the transistor’s architecture as we continued to scale down area and power consumption while boosting performance. The “planar” transistor designs that took us through the last half of the 20th century gave way to 3D fin-shaped devices by the first half of the 2010s. Now, these too have an end date in sight, with a new gate-all-around (GAA) structure rolling into production soon. But we have to look even further ahead because our ability to scale down even this new transistor architecture, which we call RibbonFET, has its limits.

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