IBM launches chip tech for smart power control

Solar panels with wind turbines in the background

IBM has produced chip-making technology to enable fast production of super-small power management semiconductors with added communication capabilities.

Claiming an industry first, Big Blue said its technology, known as CMOS-7HV, allows for the integration of wireless communications into a single power-management chip.

This will enable manufacturers to produce chips that can control power usage while communicating in real-time with systems used to measure the output of smart buildings, energy grids and transportation systems.

Furthermore, IBM said CMOS-7HV can help cut production costs by up to 20 per cent and it effectively brings the power of three chips into one, the company claimed.

"Such advancements are critical to the rollout of smart systems where the ubiquity of cheap, single-chip sensors depends on affordable manufacturing technology," IBM said.

It is the company's first move into this area - one considered vital to the development of alternative energy sources and smart buildings, Big Blue said.

Figures from iSuppli have suggested the power-management semiconductors market is set to be a lucrative one. This year the sector is worth $31 billion and this is on track to double by 2014.

"This new process can be used to create new types of affordable wireless sensors, the kind needed to monitor and connect the smart systems coming on line in the next few years - from alternative-energy products being developed by industrial firms to consumer companies looking to deliver mobile entertainment," said Michael Cadigan, general manager for IBM's microelectronics division

The chips could also help with everyday communications devices as well, noted Jeff Hilbert, president and co-founder of Wispry - a provider of wireless chips found in devices like smartphones.

"By enabling more efficient power management in smart phones, IBM's technology opens up the possibility of using smaller, lighter batteries or needing less recharge time to provide the same amount of talk' time, video sharing or picture-snapping."

Last month, it emerged IBM was developing an additional deep-sleep mode for its Power processors to help bring down chip power usage dramatically.

Read on for our analysis of whether green IT is now back on businesses' agenda.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.