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Posted on October 10, 2011

Postage stamp sized solar cell to power up computers

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Intel Corporation has revealed that Intel's engineers are working on a new class of platform power management for Ultrabooks™ that will aid in the delivery of always-on-always-connected computing. Intel's President and CEO, Paul Otellini, made the announcements during the opening keynote of the recent Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
Otellini described the new class of platform power management in development for the 2013 "Haswell" products for Ultrabooks. The advances in silicon technology and platform engineering are expected to reduce idle platform power by more than 20 times over current designs without compromising computing performance. Otellini said he expects that this design change, combined with industry collaboration, will lead to more than 10 days of connected standby battery life by 2013. The advancements will aid in delivery of always-on-always-connected computing where Ultrabooks stay connected when in standby mode, keeping the e-mail, social media and digital content up-to-date.
Looking further into the future, Otellini predicted that platform power innovation will reach levels that are difficult to imagine today. Intel's researchers have created a chip that could allow a computer to power up on a solar cell the size of a postage stamp. Referred to as a "Near Threshold Voltage Core," this Intel architecture research chip pushes the limits of transistor technology to tune power use to extremely low levels. Intel demonstrated the solar powered chip by running an animation on a separately-powered computer with only the power provided by a solar cell the size of a postage stamp under a lamp. The researchers were able to freeze the demonstration by simply blocking the light.
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Although these solar powered processes are not near production, in the future they may be used to power sensors that need to run continuously with minimal energy requirements.
Source and top image: Intel
Top image shows the Intel chip powering up on a solar cell