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Rediff.com  » Business » Intel unveils solar-powered processor computer

Intel unveils solar-powered processor computer

September 14, 2011 14:01 IST

Showcasing what the future holds in the computing arena, chip-maker Intel on Wednesday unveiled a computer with a processor running on a postage stamp-size cell powered by solar energy.

Underlining Intel's efforts to push the boundaries for reduced power consumption in computing activities, its Chief Paul Otellini demonstrated such a system during his keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2011.

Asserting that power innovation would reach unimaginable levels, he said Intel's researchers have created a chip that powers up a computer processor on a solar cell the size of a postage stamp.

The computer had its solar-powered CPU drawing sufficient power to run animation and other Windows-based computing processes from two small overhead reading lamps.

However, only the processor was being powered by the lamps and other parts of the computer were powered through a traditional power supply.

Otellini, however, clarified that the solar-powered

computer was not yet a planned product and he was only demonstrating the company's efforts to cut down power consumption in computing processes.

Terming the demonstration a lab experiment, he said much more work would be needed to make an entire computer system work on solar power and it was a challenge for the company to figure out how it could take such a system from the laboratory to production lines.

"But it shows our direction. A Pentium-class processor running on solar (power), that was unheard of even six months ago," he noted.

The Intel engineer that demonstrated the system alongside Otellini said this was a technology that could one day find its way into future 'Ultrabooks' -- which are billed as power-efficient, affordable, sleeker and lighter versions of today's laptops -- and a host of other computing devices.

He said that it was an experimental prototype of a microprocessor that could operate at near threshold voltage limits and was still capable of running the Windows operating system.

Barun Jha in San Francisco
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