Size Matters: The World's Smallest Computer
It's fairly common knowledge that we love miniaturizing our technology. The first computers were massive, and often filled entire rooms. Since then, we've managed to make them smaller, and smaller, and smaller.. Last month, researchers from Michigan University unveiled a very interesting and exciting prototype.
It's a new computer; one which measures only one cubic millimeter.
Professors Dennis Sylvester, David Blaauw, and David Wentzloff headed the research, the end result of which was this implantable eye pressure monitor. Designed to measure signs of glaucoma in patients, the computer consists of a battery, radio and antenna array, a pressure sensor, memory unit, and a power-efficient processor.
This size and portability does come with a price, however: the researchers have developed a rather unique innovation in order to ensure their monitoring device is self sufficient. It only powers on every fifteen minutes, with a self charging battery. Ten hours of indoor light per day or one and a half hours of sunlight is all the device requires, and the memory in the microcomputer can store up to a week of information.
Sylvester has described it as "The first true millimeter scale computing system" .
The possible uses for such an advancement are myriad, and all of them are exciting. Imagine, if you will, a supercomputer. Your first thought is that it would be fairly overlarge, yes? Well, here's the thing- if this sort of technology is redesigned and applied to more large-scale electronics, we could see a massive increase in processing power. If all these features can fit in a chip as small as one cubic millimeter, imagine how much power could fit into a standard motherboard if the entire system was composed of chips adapted from this ultra tiny tech.