News Article

U-Arkansas innovation brings power-saving technology to digital devices
Date: Jun 15, 2011
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Featured firm in this article: NanoWatt Design LLC of Fayetteville, AR

NanoWatt Design, LLC, a start-up launched in February, has inked a license agreement for a patent-pending technology with the University of Arkansas. The company has begun to market the technology, an asynchronous circuit architecture called Sleep Convention Logic (SCL), which responds to market demand for ultra-low power devices without sacrificing speed.

Ten billion mobile devices now connect to the Internet, according to the company. Many are battery operated, and there are mounting design difficulties to supply power while preventing the devices from overheating. Moreover, power requirements for mobile electronics using conventional design architecture are forecast to increase 15% per year as users demand more functionality, yet battery technology will provide, at most, 5% improvement annually, according to the company. Also, because devices are already about the right size and weight, they cannot be easily modified to manage heat. Reducing the power required to operate a device is the only way to resolve the dilemma.

NanoWatt's SCL reduces standby leakage power by more than 1,000 times and energy per operation by more than five times compared to synchronous CMOS, the most widely used integrated circuit architecture. In terms of speed, SCL also compares favorably to conventional synchronous circuits, making it a candidate for the design of chips used in cell phones, laptops, tablets, and even servers. "SCL leaves every logic stage in low-power sleep mode following every single operation, and a logic stage is only awakened to perform useful work," explains Ronald B. Foster, NanoWatt's CEO. "By supplying power only as needed, SCL addresses the growing demand for smarter, more complex digital devices such as GPS, smart phones, and even medical implants."