Published in Mobiles

ARM sees flexible processors as a new thing

by on26 July 2021

Printed for a few cents

UK computer chip designer ARM is showing off a new processor which could be manufactured for cents by printing circuits directly onto paper, cardboard or cloth.

The technology could give trillions of everyday items such as clothes and food containers the ability to collect, process and transmit data across the internet -- something that could be as convenient for retailers.

In recent decades, processors have reduced in size and price to the point that they are now commonly used in everything from televisions to washing machines and watches. But almost all chips manufactured today are rigid devices created on silicon wafers in highly specialised and costly factories where dozens of complex chemical and mechanical processes take up to eight weeks from start to finish.

Now, ARM has developed a 32-bit processor called PlasticARM with circuits and components that are printed onto a plastic substrate, just as a printer deposits ink on paper.

James Myers at ARM says the processor can run a variety of programs, although it currently uses read-only memory so is only able to execute the code it was built with. Future versions will be fully programmable and flexible.

Of course, it is the sort of tech which will go everywhere and cause nightmares for privacy advocates.  It is one thing when your phone grasses you up to the cops, but when the wrapper on your frozen meat can be analysed by police you really are in trouble.  

Last modified on 26 July 2021
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