Japanese consortium to develop solar powered CPU

September 7, 2009 // 10:11 a.m.

Tags: #amd #canon #cpu #fujitsu #hitachi #intel #low-power-cpu #nec #panasonic #processor #renesas #toshiba #ulv

Intel and AMD could be in for a challenge from a surprising source: a new CPU being developed by a consortium of seven Japanese companies.

According to an article over on Forbes, the consortium - which consists of household names including Toshiba, Fujitsu, Canon, Panasonic, and Hitachi along with NEC and the lesser-known Renesas - aims to produce a new CPU which will consume around 70 percent less power than existing solutions without sacrificing performance.

The project, funded by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry isn't just looking for a way to power the portable devices of the future: the move to develop a local chip that lessens the country's dependence on foreign technology.

The entire scheme has been kick-started with a bankroll of between 3 and 4 billion Japanese Yen - or around £19.6-26.2 million - which seems like a very small amount to develop a radically new type of chip which will really get Intel worried. That said, the funding represents initial capital, and is likely to increase as the project moves beyond the planning stage.

Perhaps most interestingly, the project appears to be aiming to create processors which draw such a small amount of power they could feasibly be powered by solar panels - meaning mobile devices which potentially will never need connecting to the mains. That said, the group itself has not yet clarified quite which market the new CPU technology would be aimed at - high-performance desktop devices or low-power portable devices.

Do you think the processor market could use a shakeup, or is the consortium merely trying to come up with a local version of the popular ARM-based low-power processors currently beloved of portable device manufacturers? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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