TechOn!: Imagine a chip that waits in Off mode for an input, that instantly turns on the power for processing when an input is detected, and then turns itself off again.
An integrated circuit (IC) technology that might make possible this type of “normally-off” equipment will enter practical use in 2009: zero-standby-dissipation chips, achieved by making the entire chip, including logic, nonvolatile.
As environment-friendly equipment becomes ever more important, this may be the trump card in slashing power consumption.
The industry is switching into high gear in pursuit of zero-standby-dissipation IC technology. Rohm Co Ltd of Japan, at the forefront of developments, prototyped a microprocessor in 2008 and is now designing custom chips for a number of equipment manufacturers.
With its volume production line in Kyoto completed in May/June 2009, Rohm will begin shipping custom ICs in the second half of the year.
“Equipment using the new chips may appear before the end 2009,” according to a source at the company. NEC Corp of Japan, hot on Rohm’s heels, has developed a technology that runs chips even faster, and completed verification of a test chip in 2008.