Spinning Out New Circuits

Magnetic semiconductors could lead to a future generation of computer logic

3 min read

15 April 2010—Tiny semiconductor dots could lead to a new type of circuit based on magnetism rather than current flow. At least that’s the hope of researchers who’ve made the dots and are hoping to build them into a workable device.

”We want to make it into a so-called nonvolatile transistor,” says Kang Wang, head of the Device Research Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles. Such a ”spintronic” transistor would retain its logic state in the absence of current and require less power to switch a bit, reducing the electrical power required by a computer chip by as much as 99 percent. Wang’s research, supported in part by Intel, was published in March in the online version of Nature Materials.

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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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