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Dark Silicon Could Improve Smartphone Battery Life

A new smartphone chip prototype relies on "dark silicon" to improve battery life. Dark silicon refers to the huge swaths of silicon transistors on today's chips that are underused because there is not enough power to run all the transistors at the same time.

The new chip prototype - GreenDroid - includes specialized processors fashioned from dark silicon. These processors will run heavily used chunks of code, called "hot code," in Google's Android smartphone platform.

Computer science professors Michael Taylor and Steven Swanson are leading the GreenDroid project, which grabbed attention at the HotChips symposium in August.

'Smartphones are a perfect match for our approach, since users spend most of their time running a core set of applications, and they demand long battery life," said Swanson.

Manufactured chip prototypes will be out next year. "Our students are designing a real multicore processing chip, in an advanced technology, that is simultaneously advancing the state-ofthe art in both smartphone and processor design," said Taylor.


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