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Singapore team develops revolutionary low power bit-switch

Academic researchers have created a microelectronic device that can potentially function as a high-performance “bit-switch”. It consumes 1,000 times less power than commercial memory technologies.

The research was led by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in partnership with National University of Singapore (NUS). The key to their breakthrough is the harnessing of magnetic whirls called skyrmions, which are 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. These whirls can be extremely stable and compact, and therefore form robust mobile switches for large-scale data processing of AI applications.

Obviously, the innovation could have huge implications in a computing world which is moving towards generative AI, large language models and cloud computing. These activities require large amounts of data to be processed at fast speeds, which consumes huge volumes of power.

One solution is is to reduce the size of the computing “switch”, but after 70 years this process is approaching its physical limits. The Singapore researchers believe have skyrmions could unlock a new approach to this microelectronic platform challenge. It has now fabricated microelectronic devices on 200 mm silicon wafers using materials and methods readily employed in existing microelectronic foundries in Singapore.

“Skyrmions have unique and elusive attributes that can be exploited to implement various AI architectures with unprecedented efficiency and functionality. Our microelectronic device provides the long-awaited key to unlocking their vast potential. It will help cement skyrmions as an integral component for the future of computing,” said team leader Dr Anjan Soumyanarayanan, Principal Scientist at A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and Assistant Professor at the NUS Faculty of Science’s Department of Physics.

The team is now looking to collaborate with semiconductor manufacturing companies and system integrators to scale up the technology for wider adoption.

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July 23 2024 1:29 am V22.5.13-2