accelerating chips, extracting waste heat
IBM physicists discovered a novel material called a "Weyl semimetal" that can be used for thermal energy harvesting and boosted chip performance.
an article for IEEE Spectrum on July 19, 2017
"A new class of exotic materials could find its way into next-generation technologies that efficiently convert waste heat into electrical current according to new research. Both the exotic materials and the means by which they generate electricity rely on a hybrid of advanced concepts—including string theory combined with black holes combined with cutting-edge condensed matter physics.
But the end result is straightforward: A strip of the material niobium phosphide (NbP), in the presence of strong magnetic fields, appears to be good at harvesting thermal energy and translating that into possibly usable current."
Software Controls Cache Memory to Speed CPUs
Letting the operating system control cache memory management saves power too
A new process for managing the fast-access memory inside a CPU has led to as much as a twofold speedup and to energy-use reductions of up to 72 percent. According to its designers, realizing such stunning gains requires a big shift in what part of the computer controls this crucial memory: Right now that control is hard-wired into the CPU’s circuitry, but the substantial speedup came when the designers let the operating system handle things instead.
The CPU uses high-speed internal memory caches as a kind of digital staging area. Caches are a CPU’s workbench, whether they’re holding onto instructions a CPU may need soon or data it may need to crunch. And from smartphones to servers, nearly every CPU today manages the flow of bits in and out of its caches using algorithms built into its own circuits.
But, say two MIT researchers, as computers and portable devices accumulate more and more memory and CPU cores, it makes less and less sense to leave cache management entirely up to the CPU. Instead, they say, it might be better to let the operating system share the burden.
Image courtesy AMD