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App-Specific Processors to Fight Dark Silicon

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Green Android

Microprocessors designed around the most-used apps could make smart phones more energy-efficient.

University of California, San Diego

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers working on the GreenDroid project have developed software that scans the Android operating system and its most popular applications to create a processor design tailored to their needs.

The software can be 11 times more efficient than conventional smartphone chips, say UCSD's Michael Taylor and Steven Swanson. Chip designs for mobile devices need retooling for two reasons, according to Taylor.

"One is to improve their use of the limited energy available to a phone, and the other is to attack a problem called dark silicon, which is set to make conventional chip designs even less efficient," he says.

The software will make it easier to incorporate dark silicon, which is expected to become necessary to create smaller and faster chips. The GreenDroid design surrounds a processor's main core with 120 smaller ones that manage a piece of code that is frequently used by applications.

"If you fill the chip with highly specialized cores, then the fraction of the chip that is lit up at one time can be the most energy efficient for that particular task," Taylor says. The researchers also developed software that automatically translates source code into processor cores.

From Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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