MIT researchers building chips to prevent leaky Internet of Things

MIT researchers this week are demonstrating a design for new radio chips that could be used to efficiently power the Internet of Things.

MIT researchers this week are demonstrating a design for new radio chips that could be used to efficiently power the Internet of Things.

The researchers, led by MIT Professor in Electrical Engineering Anantha Chandrakasan, are presenting their work at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, where the show theme is "Silicon Systems -- Small Chips for Big Data." The MIT paper is titled "A +10dBm 2.4GHz Transmitter with sub-400pW Leakage and 43.7% System Efficiency."

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In an Internet of Things where countless devices are communicating wirelessly with one another via sensors and processors, a key concern for architects is that endpoints are powerful enough but don't suck up too much energy, especially when idle. This goes both for IoT deployments at homes and at enterprises, where IoT is expected to take off.

"A key challenge is designing these circuits with extremely low standby power, because most of these devices are just sitting idling, waiting for some event to trigger a communication," says Chandrakasan, in a statement. "When it's on, you want to be as efficient as possible, and when it's off, you want to really cut off the off-state power, the leakage power."

Boldly, Chandrakasan's group claims its transmitter design can slash"off-state leakage" of picowatts 100-fold. It does so by addressing shortcomings in semiconductors as conductors and insulators, though you can dig into the details of this MIT IoT efficiency plan a little more here.

This research was funded by Shell and Texas Instruments.

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