Mobile computing has become ubiquitous as has charging the devices to keep them running. People would rather be using them than charging them so researchers, designers, and engineers have been searching for ways to deliver not processing power but to balance the energy to feed it.
With that goal in mind SuVolta has been looking for way to make transistors more energy efficient.
SuVolta’s technology saves power by reducing the variability in the performance of different transistors on the same chip. The variations stem from minor fluctuations in the material a chip is made from and cause some transistors to require higher voltages than others to operate properly. That wastes power because a chip’s overall voltage must be set at a level high enough for all transistors to work, causing many to get more than they need.
The SuVolta design is easier to manufacture but is limited to smaller devices like cameras, GPS, Google Glass… it will not improve processing power or battery life on larger handheld or tablet PC’s, but Intel’s FinFET has broken similar ground in an effort to meet those demands.
SuVolta’s new transistor design can be made by existing manufacturing lines without major changes. That’s in contrast with a more complex, 3-D transistor design called the FinFET, pioneered by Intel and also being adopted by its competitors (see “3-D Transistors”). Chip fabrication plants require major refits to handle that technology.
The SuVolta design is also reported to have increased chip speed by 35% using the same amount of power which translates into getting more from what you’ve already got. Consumers always want more, particularly from digital cameras and video, so this innovation demonstrates a significant leap forward in small device power management.