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Nanyang, Rice U nanotech initiative eyes probabilistic CMOS

Posted: 07 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Rice U professor? nanotech initiative? probabilistic CMOS?

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has established the Institute for Sustainable Nanoelectronics (ISNE), an initiative aimed at developing next-generation embedded IC chips that consume over 100 times less energy, as well as cut design and production costs.

ISNE will receive a seed funding of $2.618 million from NTU over two years, while its strategy will be directed by Krishna Palem, an NTU visiting professor from Rice University. The institute will collaborate closely with Rice University's Value of Information-based Sustainable Embedded Nanocomputing Center (VISEN), which was founded and directed by Palem.

"The microelectronics and IC design industry worldwide has experienced rapid growth in the last four decades, during which transistors have shrunk in size tremendously, resulting in cellphones and computers that are much smaller, lighter, more powerful and cost less to produce, for example. However, transistors are now so small they have reached their physical limitations, with power consumption, heat dissipation and static current leakage becoming major challenges," said Yeo Kiat Seng, an EE professor at NTU and key member of ISNE, explaining the focus of the institute.

What ISNE aims to do is change the approach to chip design and evolve a design methodology that is platform-independent. One such approach is probabilistic CMOS (PCMOS), which was invented Palem. The PCMOS approach is claimed to allow chips to use less energy and attain nano-dimensions, enabling longer battery life and faster turn-around in new designs.

"A major goal of this collaboration is to exploit the exponential rate at which the size of electronic component has been shrinking," said Palem. "The key is tying the costs for design, energy consumption and production to the value that the computed information has for the user."

According to NTU, the research team is currently designing and building the first production prototype of these new ICs.

ISNE will also get to draw upon an International Network of Excellence, directed by Palem, comprising electronics and computing experts from leading U.S. universities. The first visit by six of these researchers will be in October.

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