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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Self-Healing Microchip: A Super Chip With Super Powers!

Don’t you hate it when you’ve got a sweet, hot rod computer where all of your most valuable files live and then suddenly, you watch in terror as it endures a painful meltdown? (Well, due to the fact that it’s an inanimate object, you’re doing your best to feel it’s pain.) Of course it doesn’t just “hurt” your computer, it’s making you scream, “Why???!!! Why???!!!” in agonizing emotional pain from the depths of your soul. Well, just know, that help is on the way. Maybe not for this particular computer, but maybe say, the computer you own five years from now. I know it’s not too terribly encouraging now, but know that the technology to prevent this sort of thing from happening has begun to come into existence. You’re just dying to know what it is, aren’t you. I’ll save it for the next paragraph… just to keep building the suspense…

Revolutionary new microchips. Ah, ah, ah… not just any microchips; self-healing microchips! (I see you shaking your head in disbelief…eyes bugged out… asking me, “What?? For real??”) Yup. For real! But don’t think of this brilliant new invention to be some sort of space age technology. As awesome as it would be to say that this microchip could generate missing pieces and physically repair itself, that’s not the case. Stay with me though! Instead, if the chip undergoes damage that would otherwise render the microchip useless, this little sucker can actually do some thinking and reconfigure itself so that the rest of the chip will be able to take over the functions that were lost. Now that’s just as awesome, right?

Ali Hajimiri and the rest of his team at Caltech developed this clever little microchip. The difference between this microchip and the ordinary one is that Caltech’s chip operates as a power amplifier. It’s the same sort circuit that processes signal transmissions, not unlike the signal transmissions of mobile phones. Along with this secondary processor, this mega chip also has 100,000 transistors and different types of sensors to continually check up on the chip’s health overall. In order to test the efficiency and power of this microchip, the team had the thrill of blasting it with lasers, taking out nearly half of its transistors. Amazingly, it took the chip less than a second to make up for the loss and continue on functioning! 

The team also discovered that, if the chip was lucky and wasn’t blasted by lasers, it had the ability to become more efficient by cutting it’s consumption of power in half. Now, of course, don’t go throwing that future laptop down the stairs, thinking that everything will be just fine and dandy. Just know that, although you should still exercise caution while moving or transporting your computer, if it experiences some moderate bumps and a few small bruises, you’re basically covered… or at least, you will be… five years from now.

Beth Gossings is a freelance writer and a contributor at starcomputerparts.com- a blog about the latest technology in computers and gagets.  
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