Arm Developed Flexible Microprocessor | Electronics For You


Arm developed a powerful flexible microprocessor for realizing the full potential of the Internet of Things.

Microprocessors have undergone many transformations and advancements in the last few decades. Earlier microprocessors were just able to do basic arithmetic calculations, nowadays the microprocessors integrate over billions of transistors to perform complex calculations. We can currently fabricate MOSFETs on chips with lengths as small as 5nm. This is due to the ever decreasing feature size of silicon devices. But there might be cases where rigid processors are not suitable.

There is an increasing demand for wearable devices, which raises the need for flexible and compact electronic devices. Wearable devices and many other sophisticated systems need sensors that can be attached to various kinds of surfaces or substrates. Therefore, it is necessary for the sensors to be flexible and also hold the same electrical property.

Arm recently announced their 32-bit processor called PlasticARM that integrates circuits and components printed onto a plastic substrate, just as a printer deposits ink on paper. Flexible microprocessors have been demonstrated earlier, but Arm’s has 56,340 components integrated into less than 60 square millimeters. This gives it around 12 times more components to carry out calculations than the previous best flexible chip.

According to James Myers of Arm, the developed processor can run a variety of programs. It currently uses read-only memory, so it is only able to execute the code it was built with. Future versions will use fully programmable and flexible memory.

“It won’t be fast, it won’t be energy efficient, but if I’m going to put it on a lettuce to track shelf life, that’s the idea,” James says. “We’re still looking for the applications, just like the original processor guys in the 1970s. Is this about smart packaging? Is it going to be gas sensors that can tell you whether something is safe to eat or not? It could be wearable health patches, that’s a fun project we’re looking at.”

For more information visit Arm.


 





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