Intel researchers have just managed to tweak a Pentium-based processor in such a degree that they made the thing be able to run on solar power provided by a solar cell no larger than the size of a stamp.
Of course, Pentiums are all dated (they got on the market in 1993), but merely the thought of such a processor, once at the top of personal computing, running on so little energy just makes every smartphone and laptop user grin.
In fact, the Intel employees managed to run it on just little more juice than you’d need to power on the transistors on a regular microprocessor.
eBay has been used to find a suitable (and still working) motherboard that hosted the ultra-efficient processor. Of course, the only thing solar-powered was the processor – the motherboard was ran with grid electricity.
“People these days will kill for another 15 or 20 minutes of battery life, and here you’re saying you can improve battery life by a factor of 5 or 10,” said Intel CTO Justin Rattner.
Although the idea of solar powered computing is not something people had been dreaming since yesterday, the proof that conventional, electricity-guzzling processor architectures can be converted to run on 5 times less power than their original versions is amazing.
To be noted that just a small team of researchers from Intel took this project into their hands. If the company will (which I’m sure) start a similar project on a larger scale, then in a few years (or even less) we’ll have laptops that run for more than six hours and phones that last for a week, just like in the old days, without recharging.