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Intel Working on Ultra-Low Power Chips with Energy Harvesting Capabilities

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Published on : Sep 10, 2013

The R&D team of Intel-the world\'s leading chipmaker-is currently working on ultra low-power chips that are capable of harvesting power from the environment around them. These chips will have dramatically-reduced energy consumption when integrated with host devices. 

The target is to produce system-on-a-chips (SoCs) that can be fitted into modern consumer electronic devices, and will consume less than one-thousandth the amount of power required by tablet hardware and smartphones. If the investigations are successful, these chips will draw power in milliwatts or microwatts. These milliwatt devices could be developed in various forms-such as wearable or handheld with the ability to follow commands, interact with an online service, and display information.

The SoCs would carry the capability to be fitted inside sensors and devices several times smaller than the average modern-day cell phone. Investigations are currently being carried out to determine how low-power and low-cost these chips could possibly be. The critical elements of such milliwatt devices would be a display screen, a microphone, a low-energy connection (such as Bluetooth), a micro controller and an energy harvesting technique.

As part of its ultra-low power chip project, Intel is exploring various energy harvesting techniques. These include RF broadcasting, piezoelectricity, thermoelectric, and solar energy.

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