In today’s world, technology has integrated into all parts of public life, so much so that the requirement for computational power is ever increasing. Due to this, the energy consumption of this computational power is growing in leaps and bounds as well. The effect is so significant that data centres are built near rivers to cool the machinery as it uses a lot of energy.
The digital communications infrastructure that is the backbone of this information age uses about 10% of total global electricity. Studies advocate that if there is no major change in the fundamental technology of our communications infrastructure, then we might have to tolerate a 50% increase in global electricity by the year 2030. Hence, there needs to be some advancement in computing hardware present in large data centers or those electronics involved in driving the communication networks.
To resolve this problem, a team of researchers has developed a prototype microprocessor with the help of superconductor devices. This may be considered a significant development in the Microprocessors Market as the superconductor device used is about 80 times more energy-efficient than other state-of-the-art semiconductor devices that are usually found in microprocessors.
The team put all its effort into designing a more efficient microprocessor. However, the superconductors used in its architecture require particular environmental conditions to be able to operate. To confront with this power problem, the team investigated a tremendously energy-efficient superconductor called AQFP (Adiabatic Quantum-Flux-Parametron). They used it as the foundation block for making a microprocessor and other computing hardware that is ultra-low-power and high in performance.
The researchers stated AQFP was developed and successfully demonstrated using a prototype 4-bit AQPF microprocessor with the name MANA (Monolithic Adiabatic Integration Architecture). It is the first adiabatic superconductor microprocessor that the world has ever seen. The demonstration showed that AQFP is competent for data storage and data processing. They also showed that the part that processes the microprocessor data could clock frequency of 2.5 GHz-this makes it par with current computing technologies.
It cannot be forgotten that for superconductors to operate successfully, they require extremely cool temperatures. It is presumed that due to this problem, the energy needed by the microprocessor would surpass the amount needed by current technology, therefore making it undesirable. However, this is not the case. For AQFPs to successfully go to superconducting mode, the temperature needs to be brought down from room temperature to 4.2 Kelvin. Even if this energy consumption is counted, AQFP is 80 times more energy-efficient than other leading superconductor electronic devices found in computer chips.
Now, the research team is working to further improve the technology, with particular emphasis on making the AQFP more compact. They also want to undertake the task of increasing the operation speed and energy efficiency of the device through reversible computation.
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