Transmeta shows technique to decrease transistor leakage

Posted on Wednesday, Oct 15 2003 @ 14:41 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Transmeta showed off today with a new solution for the increasing problem of transistor leakage. The new technology called LongRun2 provides a software controled leakage management system that will be used in future versions of their Efficeon processor. LongRung2 is ment to decrease power usage of their processors by dynamically changing the voltage and MHz of the cpu as the system load changes.

Ā  Transistor leakage is becoming an increasing problem as semiconductor technology scales to smaller dimensions. Industry experts have called transistor leakage one of the fundamental challenges to Moore's Law of technology scaling. Leakage problems are expected to get progressively worse as the industry scales to 90nm and 65nm transistors. Leakage power could easily dominate total chip power and prevent low power standby operation if not controlled.

Transmeta's first generation LongRunĀ® power management technology was introduced in January 2000, and was the first technology in the industry to adjust MHz and voltage dynamically, hundreds of times per second, to reduce power consumption. Transmeta's second generation LongRun2 technology extends this approach further to include dynamic adjustments of transistor leakage under software control. Software control is important in order to adjust leakage due to changes in runtime conditions, such as voltage and temperature, that are not predetermined when the chip is manufactured.

Transmeta's new LongRun2 technology is able to control transistor leakage through software while a chip is running. Transmeta's LongRun2 software works to control leakage as an interdisciplinary solution in combination with special circuits in the Efficeon processor, and with a standard CMOS process. During the demonstration at the Microprocessor Forum conference, Transmeta showed the Efficeon processor adjusting leakage up to hundreds of times per second while playing a video game, playing a DVD movie and going into standby. In standby mode, Efficeon core leakage power was reduced by approximately 70 times by using LongRun2 technology.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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