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SuVolta takes wraps off battery-friendly chip technology

December 7, 2011

Silicon Valley start-up SuVolta is giving the electronics industry a peek under the hood at its new technology that it claims will drastically boost the energy efficiency of microchips.

That’s something chip designers are focusing more and more on as people increasingly rely on smartphones and tablets that chew up battery charges.

SuVolta says it can halve the amount of power used by chips without affecting their performance, and it is debuting the details of its technology to scientists at the 2011 International Electron Devices Meeting on Wednesday in Washington, DC.

The company says its “Deeply Depleted Channel” technology reduces voltage variability in transistors, drastically cutting the amount of energy that turns into heat and is wasted as microchips crunch data.

Backed by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, SuVolta has already licensed the new technology to Fujitsu Semiconductor. Fujitsu has been testing it at in one of its fabs and will present the technical paper jointly with SuVolta.

Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Samsung dominate the mobile chip market using low-power designs licensed by Britain’s ARM Holdings and they are potential customers for SuVolta.

Intel has fallen far behind in making chips for smartphones and tablets but the venerated silicon giant has the best manufacturing technology in the industry by far. Many experts believe it is only a matter of time before Intel catches up to the ARM users.

If  SuVolta’s technology takes off, it could help those mobile chipmakers preserve their lead against Intel.

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