Startup Pitches Tech to Power Down Chips

Chip startup Multigig said that it’s got an answer to rising data center power bills.

The 12-employee, Scotts Valley, Calif., company, which emerged from secrecy on May 8, has created new processor clock technology that it says can halve processor power consumption by recycling most of the electricity used to regulate processor clocks.

The technology, which Multigig is offering up to interested parties to license, is arriving at a time when concerns about the electrical consumption of computers is on the rise among many large businesses.

Meanwhile, a number of well-known companies, including Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, Hewlett-Packard have joined the Green Grid Alliance, for example, to foster the development of data centers that use less electricity.

“The clock is consuming well over half the power in a microprocessor,” said Haris Basit, chief operating officer at Multigig.

“That’s mainly because the charge [used in a clock signal] is being taken from the power supply, used once and stuffed into the [electrical] ground. What we do is recycle that charge, so we save a lot of energy.”

Data centers give Intel static over electric bills. Click here to read more.

Whereas today’s chips use a series of PLLs (phase locked loops) and inverters to arrive at a frequency and distribute it internally—and its the distribution of the clock that uses energy—Multigig deploys a grid of self-oscillating circuits, made up of transmission lines in the form of a square.

It then forms the squares into a grid, allowing them to work in concert to regulate clock speed. Although it still works with an external PLL to set chip speed, the grid approach uses less power because it changes the way the clock signals are distributed.

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