Clock-free technology developed

April 26, 2002

Mobile phones and other portable electronic devices such as hearing aids could use less power, become more efficient and weigh less if self-timed, clock-free (or asynchronous) technology takes off, according to researchers at the University of Newcastle.

The team, led by Alex Yakovlev, presented two papers to the recent international symposium on advanced research into asynchronous circuits and systems in Manchester.

One paper says that the shift in technology would see the end of clocks controlling computers and related equipment. Instead, microelectronic crystals would send rapid pulses of electricity to synchronise the flow of data.

The other paper the team presented at the conference outlines the department of computing science's latest techniques for designing asynchronous systems. The benefits stem from a method of sending data that is not controlled by time.

Professor Yakovlev said that clocks generated heat as well as using a considerable amount of power, so self-timed systems were more likely to be incorporated in portable devices that run on "embedded" systems.

"We have shown that asynchronous systems work, but we need to develop simple tools for commercial design and testing purposes. This is the last piece of the jigsaw," Professor Yakovlev added.

Details: www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/people/alex.yakovlev

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