8.25.2004

Morphing with MemCheck?
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Reading a post by Michael S. Malone at Silicon Insider got me to thinking about interconnections. Malone's piece "Shape-Shifting Microchip Technology Could Reorganize the Corporate World" from abcnews.com basically makes the argument that the future will belong to morphing technology that can change shape and function based on a specific application, and that these changes ultimately will lead to a world where chips and corresponding devices can rapidly alter their use.

The idea was attributed to the man who led the team that built the world's first microprocessor, the Intel 4004: Dr. Federico Faggin. Faggin saw that chips could reorganize themselves architecturally, in real time, so in the one day day, a single chip in your hand might wirelessly download music and e-mails, then turn into a cellphone, then check your blood pressure, then control the thermostat and air conditioner in your home. As Malone points out, today these are all handled by independent devices with their own custom processors - leaving us to lug around cell phones, game players, laptops, PDAs, GPS devices, iPods, etc. What if one chip could do all of these things? What Faggin was describing was a single chip - a "protean chip," that could do all of these things.

In the news recenty,IBM announced a revolutionary new chip "morphing" technology that, in the words of Big Blue, can produce semiconductor devices "that can monitor and adjust their functions to improve their quality, performance and power consumption without human intervention."

Specifically, the technology is called "eFuse." It is a combination of software algorithms and microscopic hardware fuses on the chip surface that senses declining performance by the chip and automatically changes the configuration and efficiency of the surrounding circuits for improved operation.

In conception eFuse sounds like MemCheck - that it, a system to monitor and report on performance and ultimately re-route all of us to more productive cognitive-related activities, general exercise and an experts' advice included.



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