CeNSE researchers develop energy-efficient computing platform

Energy-efficient computing platform could help create next-generation electronics, say researchers at Center for Nanoscience and Engineering

Here, researchers at the Indian Institute of Science’s Center for Nanoscience and Engineering (CeNSE) have developed an energy-efficient computing platform that they say holds promise for building next-generation electronic devices.

IISc states that the massive growth of data centers that consume large amounts of energy has contributed significantly to the global power shortage. It noted that with the growing demand for faster and smarter computers and devices, there is an urgent need to develop alternatives to traditional electronic components and make these devices more energy efficient.

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Instead of using complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS), the building blocks of most electronic circuits today, the team of researchers used components called memristors, which can both store data and perform computations. According to the statement from IISc, by designing a unique memristor based on a metal-organic complex, the team was able to reduce the number of components required in the circuit, thereby greatly increasing speed and efficiency. CeNSE Assistant Professor Sreetosh Goswami said: “We have now discovered a molecular circuit element that can capture complex logic functions within itself, facilitating in-memory computing with fewer time steps and using far fewer components than usual. ’ two studies recently published in Advanced Materials.

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Existing computing architectures process and store data in different physical locations. Communication back and forth between two locations consumes the vast majority of computational energy. “We solve this problem by performing computation and storage in the same physical location,” he said. Goswami added that the platform is “orders of magnitude better than” current state-of-the-art. “We’re (now) able to make arrays of devices that are more powerful, more consistent and more stable than commercial technologies like flash memory.”

Previously developed memristor-based circuits were also limited by speed, and because they performed operations sequentially, errors were more likely to accumulate. The new platform was designed to reduce operational steps, increase speed and reduce errors, the researchers said.

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The metal-organic compound used to build the platform was designed by Sreebrata Goswami, an expert scientist at CeNSE. “These (composites) are like electronic sponges that can absorb and release electrons over billions of cycles without degradation,” he said. By making small chemical modifications — for example, adding or exchanging an ion or two in the complex — researchers may be able to adapt the same circuit for multiple functions, the statement said.

When they built circuits that performed mathematical operations and compared them to typical CMOS circuits, the team found that the new platform was 47 times more energy efficient and operated 93 times faster, while occupying only 9 percent of the physical footprint.

Going forward, the team plans to connect the platform to sensors — for example, smartphone screens that sense touch — and study how efficiently the platform processes the data it collects. Santi Prasad Rath, a postdoctoral fellow at CeNSE who designed and fabricated the circuit with PhD student Deepak, added: “In Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, this type of computing technology is very useful.” Such efforts are critical, the statement said, Because scientists believe that we will soon reach a point where CMOS technology can no longer scale in terms of efficiency or performance. “This will require the invention of new nanoscale device structures to achieve Moore’s Law within the next few decades,” said Navakanta Bhat, CeNSE professor and expert in CMOS technology. “The fact that emerging molecular platforms outperform established technologies is very important. It is an High-stakes research that can help shape the future of our national mission in semiconductor electronics.” Public Transportation

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