Every year, tech giants develop faster devices and more powerful long-lasting batteries with the main goal of meeting the growing demand for ultra-fast mobile technology in next-generation devices. Along the same lines, scientists from Brigham Young University in Utah, United States, created the world’s most energy efficient analog-to-digital converter (ADC) microchip. It is important to mention, ADCs are indispensable to translate analog signals for data processing purposes.
Unlike today’s ADCs that consume hundreds of thousands of watts, this microprocessor is capable of consuming only 21 milliliters of power at 10 GHz for ultra-wideband wireless communications. “Many research groups are focused on developing the best ADCs in the world, in order to build a more efficient and effective microchip,” said Wood Chiang, author of the project.
The central challenge faced by the researchers was the increasingly high bandwidth within communications systems. This means higher energy consumption, therefore, solving such a problem represented creating a key piece for technological devices.
Chiang and his team made the convert faster and more efficient by reducing the load from the DAC by scaling both the capacitor’s parallel plate area and spacing. They also grouped unit capacitors differently than the conventional way, classifying capacitors with the same bit. This meant that power consumption could be significantly reduced, while speed increased.
They also used a switch with boots to create a double route where each of them can work independently, this method increases speed, without the need for additional hardware. The project was promoted by the Taiwanese Ministry of Science and a consortium of technology companies which took four years to complete. Above, three years to design the microprocessor and one year to power each function within it.
Notably, the researchers explained that the work really does have a boost for the tech industry, as ADC chips can have a variety of uses to improve the performance of electronics. From optimizing loading speeds to reducing lag when playing 4K or 8K content in real time.
“Our device required sophisticated design and verification to ensure that all the thousands of converter connections were working properly,” said Chiang. In addition to this, the main author of the project highlighted that ADC microchips can be included in autonomous vehicles, smart wearables and even devices such as implants or prostheses.