University of Michigan computer scientists and engineers are at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco today presenting papers on two systems: a prototype implantable eye pressure monitor for glaucoma patients and a compact radio for wireless sensor networks.
What makes their presentation so remarkable is that both systems involve what is believed to be the first complete millimeter-scale computing system.
The near-invisible package is just over 1 cubic millimeter in size and includes an ultra-low-power microprocessor, a thin-film battery, a solar cell, memory, a pressure sensor, and a wireless radio with an antenna.
"Millimeter-scale systems...have a host of new applications for monitoring our bodies, our environment, and our buildings," said Professor David Blaauw in a news release. "Because they're so small, you could manufacture hundreds of thousands on one wafer. There could be 10s to 100s of them per person, and it's this per capita increase that fuels the semiconductor industry's growth."
The team points to Bell's Law, formulated by computer engineer Gordon Bell in 1972, which says that a new class of smaller and cheaper computers is developed roughly every decade. This is considered to be a partial corollary to Moore's Law, established in 1970 and named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore (first names coincidental), which describes the now 50-plus-year trend that the number of transistors able to be placed on an integrated circuit doubles every two years.
The new system out of Michigan is being hailed as the first in a new class of millimeter-scale computing, and while the researchers are specifically targeting the medical side of body sensor networks, other potential applications include tracking such things as pollution, weapons, structural integrity, and more.… Read more