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Cooling microprocessors with carbon nanotubes

"Cool it!" That's a prime directive for microprocessor chips and a promising new solution to meeting this imperative is in the offing. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ...

Linux and Intel 386 processors will part ways

(—Earlier this week Linus Torvalds took away support for 386 CPUs from the Linux kernel. He agreed with the position of Red Hat engineer and Linux kernel developer Ingo Molnar to drop support for Intel's old 386 ...

Computing experts unveil superefficient 'inexact' chip

Researchers have unveiled an "inexact" computer chip that challenges the industry's dogmatic 50-year pursuit of accuracy. The design improves power and resource efficiency by allowing for occasional errors. Prototypes unveiled ...

Ferroelectrics could pave way for ultra-low power computing

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that it is possible to reduce the minimum voltage necessary to store charge in a capacitor, an achievement that could reduce the power draw and heat generation ...

Putting a new spin on computing

( -- Physicists at the University of Arizona have achieved a breakthrough toward the development of a new breed of computing devices that can process data using less power.

Researcher Uses Graphene Quilts to Keep Things Cool

( -- University of California, Riverside Professor of Electrical Engineering and Chair of Materials Science and Engineering Alexander Balandin is leading several projects to explore ways to use the unique capabilities ...

Intel's Light Peak Will Replace Copper Wires

( -- At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco Wednesday, the company announced a new optical cable that will be able to transfer data, between electrical devices, starting at speeds of 10 gigabits per second.

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A microprocessor incorporates most or all of the functions of a central processing unit (CPU) on a single integrated circuit (IC). The first microprocessors emerged in the early 1970s and were used for electronic calculators, using binary-coded decimal (BCD) arithmetic on 4-bit words. Other embedded uses of 4- and 8-bit microprocessors, such as terminals, printers, various kinds of automation etc, followed rather quickly. Affordable 8-bit microprocessors with 16-bit addressing also led to the first general purpose microcomputers in the mid-1970s.

Computer processors were for a long period constructed out of small and medium-scale ICs containing the equivalent of a few to a few hundred transistors. The integration of the whole CPU onto a single VLSI chip therefore greatly reduced the cost of processing capacity. From their humble beginnings, continued increases in microprocessor capacity have rendered other forms of computers almost completely obsolete (see history of computing hardware), with one or more microprocessor as processing element in everything from the smallest embedded systems and handheld devices to the largest mainframes and supercomputers.

Since the early 1970s, the increase in capacity of microprocessors has been known to generally follow Moore's Law, which suggests that the complexity of an integrated circuit, with respect to minimum component cost, doubles every two years. In the late 1990s, and in the high-performance microprocessor segment, heat generation (TDP), due to switching losses, static current leakage, and other factors, emerged as a leading developmental constraint.

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