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Hot Trend in Computing: Chips that Sometimes Get It Wrong

from the Houston Chronicle

At first blush it appears a daft notion: increasing the speed and efficiency of computer processors at the cost of a few computational errors. Nevertheless, as a Houston computer scientist has developed his ideas over nearly a decade, he has found increasing acclaim for his "inexact" computer chips.

This week, at a major computing conference in Italy, Rice University's Krishna Palem unveiled his newest chips that trade a bit of accuracy for better efficiency. "When we first started working on this there was a large part of the world that was skeptical about what we were doing," said Palem, who holds a joint appointment at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

"But I can very confidently say that we are past that now." That does not seem to be an idle boast. After Palem and his colleagues demonstrated their prototype chips at the ACM International Conference on Computing Frontiers in Cagliari, Italy, this week it earned "best paper" honors from attendees.

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