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On-Chip Routers Could be a Choke Point for Future Chips

Interconnect delays dwarfed by slow-downs at sluggish routers in future many-core chips, say researchers

2 min read

10 March 2010—Dual- and quad-core processors are already fairly common, and the microprocessor industry has its sights set on a not-too-distant future when hundreds of cores will populate each chip.

But in research set to appear in an upcoming issue of IEEE Electron Device Letters, engineers at Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, report that in order for the semiconductor industry to make 100-core chips commercially available by 2015 (with hundreds more cores per chip a few years after that), the basic thinking behind their design will have to change. Until now, researchers thought that delays caused by the chips’ nanometers-thin interconnects would be the bugaboo, but it turns out that routers represent a much bigger source of delay that must be overcome first.

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A Circuit to Boost Battery Life

Digital low-dropout voltage regulators will save time, money, and power

11 min read
Image of a battery held sideways by pliers on each side.
Edmon de Haro

YOU'VE PROBABLY PLAYED hundreds, maybe thousands, of videos on your smartphone. But have you ever thought about what happens when you press “play”?

The instant you touch that little triangle, many things happen at once. In microseconds, idle compute cores on your phone's processor spring to life. As they do so, their voltages and clock frequencies shoot up to ensure that the video decompresses and displays without delay. Meanwhile, other cores, running tasks in the background, throttle down. Charge surges into the active cores' millions of transistors and slows to a trickle in the newly idled ones.

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