A new set of chip designs named 'reversible computers' has been studied by a researcher at the University of Florida. Michael Frank, an assistant professor at UF, re-engineerd current chip design to let them recycle energy. A lot of the energy used in chips is now dissipated as heat. Frank his idea is to reuse this heat with the help of little oscillators which need to be added to chip circuits.
"The long term goal of the program is to build computing devices that go through their cycle of operations just coasting from one cycle to the next," Frank said in an interview. "In the long run, reversible computing is the only thing we can do to keep pushing performance limits."
Current designs have chips fill with a charge and then dump that energy out in the form of heat every clock cycle. Frank hopes to recapture some of that energy by putting oscillators or mechanical springs on the chip's circuitry that can bounce energy back and forth between parts of the logic.
Other researchers are working on techniques such as quantum computing to help advance chip performance. But Frank is convinced that regardless of what designs engineers come up with, they will need the reversible computing technology to keep pushing GHz higher. The technology is of particular importance as we look twenty or thirty years out, he said.