Prototype Microprocessor Developed Using Superconductors – 80 Times More Energy Efficient

Extremely Energy Efficient Microprocessor Developed Using Superconductors

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AQFP MANA microprocessor pass away image. MANA is the world’s very first adiabatic superconductor microprocessor. Credit: Yokohama National University

Researchers from Yokohama National University in Japan have actually established a model microprocessor utilizing superconductor gadgets that have to do with 80 times more energy effective than the modern semiconductor gadgets discovered in the microprocessors these days’s high-performance computing systems.

As today’s innovations end up being increasingly more incorporated in our lives, the requirement for more computational power is ever increasing. Because of this boost, the energy usage of that increasing computational power is growing profoundly. For example, a lot energy is utilized by contemporary information centers that some are developed near rivers so that the streaming water can be utilized to cool the equipment.

“The digital communications infrastructure that supports the Information Age that we live in today currently uses approximately 10% of the global electricity. Studies suggest that in the worst case scenario, if there is no fundamental change in the underlying technology of our communications infrastructure such as the computing hardware in large data centers or the electronics that drive the communication networks, we may see its electricity usage rise to over 50% of the global electricity by 2030,” states Christopher Ayala, an associate teacher at Yokohama National University, and lead author of the research study.

The group’s research study, released in Journal: IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits, information an effort to establish a more energy effective microprocessor architecture utilizing superconductors, gadgets that are exceptionally effective, however need particular ecological conditions to run.

To tackle this power issue, the group checked out using an exceptionally energy-efficient superconductor digital electronic structure, called the adiabatic quantum-flux-parametron (AQFP), as a foundation for ultra-low-power, high-performance microprocessors, and other computing hardware for the next generation of information centers and interaction networks.

“In this paper, we wanted to prove that the AQFP is capable of practical energy-efficient high-speed computing, and we did this by developing and successfully demonstrating a prototype 4-bit AQFP microprocessor called MANA (Monolithic Adiabatic iNtegration Architecture), the world’s first adiabatic superconductor microprocessor,” stated Ayala.

“The demonstration of our prototype microprocessor shows that the AQFP is capable of all aspects of computing, namely: data processing and data storage. We also show on a separate chip that the data processing part of the microprocessor can operate up to a clock frequency of 2.5 GHz making this on par with today’s computing technologies. We even expect this to increase to 5-10 GHz as we make improvements in our design methodology and our experimental setup,” Ayala stated.

However, superconductors need exceptionally cool temperature levels to run effectively. One would believe that if you consider the cooling needed for a superconductor microprocessor, the energy requirement would end up being unfavorable and go beyond present day microprocessors. But according to the research study group this, remarkably, was not the case:

“The AQFP is a superconductor electronic device, which means that we need additional power to cool our chips from room temperature down to 4.2 Kelvin to allow the AQFPs to go into the superconducting state. But even when taking this cooling overhead into account, the AQFP is still about 80 times more energy-efficient when compared to the state-of-the-art semiconductor electronic devices found in high-performance computer chips available today.”

Now that the group has actually shown the idea of this superconductor chip architecture, they prepare to enhance the chip and figure out the chip’s scalability and speed post optimization.

“We are now working towards making improvements in the technology, including the development of more compact AQFP devices, increasing the operation speed, and increasing the energy-efficiency even further through reversible computation,” Ayala stated. “We are also scaling our design approach so that we can fit as many devices as possible in a single chip and operate all of them reliably at high clock frequencies.”

In addition to constructing basic microprocessors, the group is likewise thinking about analyzing how AQFPs might help in other computing applications such as neuromorphic computing hardware for expert system along with quantum computing applications.

Reference: “MANA: A Monolithic Adiabatic iNtegration Architecture Microprocessor Using 1.4-zJ/op Unshunted Superconductor Josephson Junction Devices” by Christopher L. Ayala; Tomoyuki Tanaka; Ro Saito; Mai Nozoe; Naoki Takeuchi and Nobuyuki Yoshikawa, 15 December 2020, IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits.
DOI: 10.1109/JSSC.2020.3041338