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A Natively Flexible 32-bit Arm Microprocessor

A microprocessor developed with metal-oxide thin-film transistor technology on a flexible substrate.

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Read the full paper here. Published in Nature.

Abstract

“Nearly 50 years ago, Intel created the world’s first commercially produced microprocessor—the 4004, a modest 4-bit CPU (central processing unit) with 2,300 transistors fabricated using 10 μm process technology in silicon and capable only of simple arithmetic calculations. Since this ground-breaking achievement, there has been continuous technological development with increasing sophistication to the stage where state-of-the-art silicon 64-bit microprocessors now have 30 billion transistors (for example, the AWS Graviton2 microprocessor, fabricated using 7 nm process technology). The microprocessor is now so embedded within our culture that it has become a meta-invention—that is, it is a tool that allows other inventions to be realized, most recently enabling the big data analysis needed for a COVID-19 vaccine to be developed in record time. Here we report a 32-bit Arm (a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture) microprocessor developed with metal-oxide thin-film transistor technology on a flexible substrate (which we call the PlasticARM). Separate from the mainstream semiconductor industry, flexible electronics operate within a domain that seamlessly integrates with everyday objects through a combination of ultrathin form factor, conformability, extreme low cost and potential for mass-scale production. PlasticARM pioneers the embedding of billions of low-cost, ultrathin microprocessors into everyday objects.”

Biggs, J., Myers, J., Kufel, J. et al. A natively flexible 32-bit Arm microprocessor. Nature 595, 532–536 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03625-w



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