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Fine-Grained Grating to Improve Processors

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 02:27PM

There are a lot of parts to a processor. There is memory, integer calculators, floating-point calculators, and more, with each of these parts having smaller parts to them. When in use though, everything is powered up, so even if only the integer calculator is needed, the floating-point calculator is powered. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University want to see that change by introducing advanced gating to chip designs.

This advanced gating technology is simple enough in principle. Make it possible to not power a specific component that does not need to be powered. The catch is isolating specific components is not easy. With coarse-grained gating, you could have blocks which contain some components you need and some you do not, but the entire block is powered. This is not good enough for the researchers though, so they looked at fine-grained grating, where single components could be disabled. If coarse-grained gating could disable the addition component in a processor, then fine-grained would disable the specific part for adding large numbers, when only small numbers are being added.

The researchers did some calculations and found implementing a fine-grained grating design could reduce power usage by as much as 40%. Unfortunately this is not something that could be enabled in current chips. Perhaps the next generation of processors, desktop and mobile, will implement this concept.

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