Problem: As chip makers increase computing power by packing more and more transistors into the same space, they could end up with chips that become too hot to operate. In fact, if the pace continues, by 2010 computer chips will theoretically generate as much heat per square centimeter as a nuclear reactor.
Solution: By carefully plotting chip circuit paths, Intel engineer Ram Krishnamurthy has minimized energy leakage and improved performance; his prototype circuits run fi ve times as fast as those in today’s PCs but consume 20 to 25 percent as much power. In less than a decade Krishnamurthy has amassed 53 U.S. patents relating to circuit design. Intel, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard are already incorporating aspects of his work into advanced circuits that will lead to servers requiring no costly cooling systems, as well as to laptops with longer battery life. And if PCs soon run at a cool 10 gigahertz, it may be thanks largely to Krishnamurthy’s work.