Smallest Computer in the World; Smaller Than A Grain Of Rice

Researchers at the University of Michigan have created the World’s smallest computing unit surpassing IBM that had this record earlier.

The University held the record for the smallest computer after it created its 2x2x4mm Michigan Micro Mote in 2014. The Micro Mote is fully functional and able to retain its data even when it loses power. But IBM showed-off an even smaller chip in March,  it is smaller than a single grain of salt, coming in at 1 millimeter by 1 millimeter and reportedly has about the same computing power as a 1990s era CPU.

Coming back to the recent announcement by the University of Michigan, the new chip comes in at 0.3 mm x 0.3 mm — it would be dwarfed by a grain of rice. While it drew comparisons to IBM’s own 1mm x 1mm computer, Michigan’s team said the creation is about more than just size.

When you power off a desktop or laptop, all the programs and data still reside on the device’s internal storage. Boot up the device and all your cat videos, games, documents reappear. That can’t be said with these “computers” created by IBM and the Michigan team.

Researchers have used RAM, photovoltaics, and wireless transmitters and receivers in place of radio antennas to make the system communication ready and also minuscule in size. The system relies on light to transmit and receive data and is powered by a base station which provides light and programming data.

“We are about 10x smaller so we can fit in smaller spaces,” David Blaauw, a professor co-leading the project, said in an email statement. “Also, the IBM computer can’t sense its environment, but it can send a code identifying itself but it does not sense its physical environment.”

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