Computer Chip BoardNow this is hilarious…there is a new innovation in Computing know as…wait for it….Sloppy Chips. Now these are not to be confused with the sloppy chips that you can get from the fish and chip shop in my brother’s hometown of Standish. They are in fact the type of chip that may one day soon reside in the computing driven device that will infest your home and office and even automobile.

Here’s the background. Chips, of the silicon variety, have been slavishly following Gordon Moore’s direction and doubling in processing speed and getting steadily smaller every couple of years. For many reasons this has to come to an end. Amazingly the transistors that are on these chips which make the magic happen are now a billionth of a meter.

Good grief I hear you say, how is that possible? Well the honest answer is I don’t know and that would be in a different blog. So staying with this one for a moment let me tell you what I do know. These transistors are just a few tens of atoms across. Yup my head hurts too. The problem is that the voltage has to be dialed right down on anything this small or the heat would kill it and even then sometimes the chip produces errors or becomes a Sloppy Chip.

FriesBut wait, before you chuck out the chips (nice alliteration, hey?) they can still be used. The theory is that computing applications that process images or sound don’t have to be completely exact and can in fact tolerate many failures before they cross the thresholds of human perception. We simply don’t notice the difference. The drop in power of course means longer battery life or much lower running costs.

So you might say to err is Sloppy Chip…to forgive is human perception. Ouch!


MIT News

Business Week Magazine


The English contribution to world cuisine – the chip, by John Cleese.