Christopher Intaliata: Microchips are everywhere-of course, they are in our computers and smartphones. There are also TVs, thermostats, refrigerators, washing machines, cars. The growing group of devices embedded in computer brains and Internet connections is called the “Internet of Things.”
However, many other things, such as a carton of milk, do not have microchips or smart sensors-not that it can’t.
John Biggs: “For example, imagine smart labels on food, which may change their use date, depending on how they are handled.”
Ingria Tower: John Biggs He is an outstanding engineer of the semiconductor company Arm. He and a team of researchers have now developed a flexible proof-of-concept chip that can be used to equip milk jugs with computer intelligence and other applications… They say the chip is 12 times more complex than previous attempts. They described this in the latest issue of Nature. [John Biggs et al, A natively flexible 32-bit Arm microprocessor]
They claim that the manufacturing cost of the microprocessor is low-it is composed of thin film transistors on a flexible high-performance plastic substrate, rather than rigid silicon.
Biggs: “This is just 40,000 transistors, implemented in about 60 square millimeters. Just to compare it with the processor in the original iPhone in 2007, which is 14,000 times faster. So this is not a very high-performance microprocessor, but it It’s aimed at applications that really don’t need this level of performance.”
Ingria Tower: His co-author Katherine Ramsdale He is the senior vice president of technology at PragmatIC Semiconductor. She elaborated on the vision of how to use this flexible chip.
Ramsdale: “What we are talking about here is putting electronics on the things you buy at Walmart or Tesco every week, which will help supply chain management…waste management. Provides real-time use date information. Health care monitoring. It provides A level of calculation that is currently unavailable because it is not economical to do so.”
Biggs: “Yes, extend the’Internet of Things’ to the’Internet of Everything’.”
Ingria Tower: Despite this enthusiasm, the two admitted that the project is still a long way from commercialization.
On the one hand, although the microprocessor is built on a flexible plastic substrate, it is tested on a flat rather than curved surface. Manos Tanzeris He is a professor of flexible electronics at Georgia Institute of Technology, and he was not involved in this work.
Manos Tanzeris: “So whenever you mention a flexible processor, a flexible device, or a flexible module, the first result you have to show is that bending does not significantly affect performance.”
Ingria Tower: Biggs and Ramsdale said that testing when the chip is bent or bent may be a challenge-they will study this in future work.
Anschel SagerMoor Insights & Strategy’s report in the semiconductor industry pointed to another problem. He said that these chips are currently too large and consume too much power to be realized in terms of cost.
Drooping: “I think it does make sense to use it on milk cans-but I think you must also consider the cost. Unless these can be produced at a very low cost, it will not have any viability.”
Ingria Tower: Nonetheless, they all pointed out that silicon chips first reached this level of complexity a long time ago—in the 70s and 80s—and many similar challenges must be overcome to reach today’s level.
And John Biggs from a semiconductor company? He participated in this long-term game.
Biggs: “What I see is that flexible electronics are about three to four years behind silicon. Therefore, if we see the rapid growth of silicon in the past three to four years, there may be something very exciting in terms of silicon. The development of flexible electronics in the next one to two years.”
Ingria Tower: So the “Internet of Everything” may be coming soon… it may take a while to get here.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]