SuVolta, with partner Fujitsu, outlined its PowerShrink CMOS technology, which officials said will cut chip power consumption in half without hindering performance.
startup that builds technologies used in the development of semiconductors, is
touting a new transistor technology that officials say can reduce the power
consumption in processors by 50 percent or more without impacting performance.
technology, which SuVolta calls Deeply Depleted Channel (DDC) low-power
transistor technology, essentially reduces the variations in power needs of
individual transistors within the chip, reducing electrical waste and making
voltage requirements more predictable. The result is significantly less power
consumption-as high as 80 percent, when DDC is coupled with advanced voltage-scaling
techniques-but without lowering the chip's performance.
are what chip makers are aggressively pursuing in their systems-on-a-chip (SoC)
technologies to meet the driving demand for greater performance, energy
efficiency and battery life in mobile computing devices like smartphones and
tablets, as well as embedded devices and storage appliances.
mobile device market is dominated by the likes of Samsung Electronics,
Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments, which build chips based on designs from
ARM Holdings. However, the world's dominant chip maker, Intel, is pushing its way
into the space with its x86-based Core and Atom platforms, and expects its
technology to appear in a growing number of smartphone, tablet and ultrabook
designs in 2012.
SuVolta executives have argued that their DDC technology-part of the company's
larger PowerShrink platform, which was first introduced in June
-has a number of advantages
over Intel's efforts, particularly in areas of cost and efficiency.
officials this summer talked about the numbers that the PowerShrink CMOS
platform could offer-not only the 50 to 80 percent drop in power consumption,
but also the fact that the technology can work using half a volt on the chip
circuitry, rather than the 1 volt normally seen on chips-but did not elaborate
on the details.
Dec. 7, when officials with SuVolta and partner Fujitsu Semiconductor presented
the technology at the 2011 International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in
Washington, D.C. Fujitsu is integrating PowerShrink into its low-power
processor technology. Fujitsu already has demonstrated the technology on some
products, and chips with the SuVolta technology are expected to hit the market
in the second half of next year.
technology, which we have proven in silicon, has generated a tremendous amount
of interest in the semiconductor industry," SuVolta President and CEO Bruce
McWilliams said in a statement. "We are now disclosing the details of our DDC
transistor technology so that the industry's technologists can envision how
SuVolta's technology can lower power consumption, can allow lower supply
voltage, and can enable process scaling to sub-20 [nanometers]."
technology calls for adding elements called dopants to several areas of the
transistor, making the voltage requirements in those areas more consistent and
PowerShrink platform works well with chip-making processes already in place,
according to SuVolta officials, which they said helps keep production costs
down by enabling the chips to be built using existing fabrication facilities.
This is an advantage over efforts by the likes of Intel. With its 22nm "Ivy
Bridge" platform coming out in 2012, Intel is introducing its 3D Tri-Gate transistor architecture
, which is
designed to significantly drive up both performance and power efficiency.
However, SuVolta officials have said that Intel's design is both complex and
expensive, which opens up opportunities for technologies like theirs.
despite Intel's relatively late start in the mobile computing space, some
analysts expect the company to become a significant player, given its large
R&D budget and massive and powerful fabs.