Imec, a Belgian research institute, presented a flexible 8-bit microprocessor. The processor is suitable for sensors for IoT environments.
Imec collaborated with KU Leuven and PragmatIC Semiconductor to develop the processor. The project was funded by grants from the European Union within the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
The researchers developed an 8-bit flexible processor, integrating a total of 16,000 thin-film transistors on an area smaller than a fingernail. In contrast to traditional silicon-based processors, transistors were applied to the surface in thin layers on plastic film. According to the researchers, this reduces production costs.
Flexible processors aren’t new. Think of RFID tags, chips in playing cards or processors that drive ultra-thin displays. Yet, Imec’s 8-bit processors innovate by delivering more processing power than the norm. The researchers succeeded in getting complex code to execute correctly.
Imec finds that the processor is particularly useful for driving sensors in IoT networks. Think of home electronics, product packaging and wearables as well. Again, the processor’s main advantage is the favourable ratio of production costs and computing power. This allows a wide range of applications.