A breakthrough in understanding energy-efficient computing was announced by a team of researchers led by Professor Jeffrey Bokor, leader of the Nanomagnetics Theme within the Center for E3S. In a paper published in Science Advances, the group reported the first experimental demonstration of the Landauer Limit – the minimum energy theoretically required to carry out a computation. Although this thermodynamic limit was first predicted by Rolf Landauer more than 50 years ago, conventional computers still use far more energy every time they peform a calculation.
“We wanted to know how small we could shrink the amount of energy needed for computing,” said Professor Bokor. “The biggest challenge in designing computers and, in fact, all our electronics today is reducing their energy consumption.”
In the Science Advances paper, the Bokor group showed for the first time that the Landauer Limit can indeed be reached by demonstrating a computational operation using around a million times less energy than conventional computers. By devising a sensitive, high-precision magnetometry measurement, the group experimentally tested and confirmed the Landauer Limit by flipping a magnetic bit at room temperature. Most importantly, flipping the magnetic bit required only three zeptojoules of energy (or three billionths of a billionth of a joule) – the thermodynamically smallest possible energy cost for a computational operation.
Professor Bokor, also Deputy Director, Center for E3S, further explained: “The experimental demonstration of a computational operation at the thermodynamic energy limit highlights the Center’s mission as a Science and Technology Center of the National Science Foundation. Such exploratory research helps lay the groundwork for developing revolutionary new approaches for next-generation energy-efficient electronics and information processing.”
– Learn more: Read also the UC Berkeley news release.