microprocessor
Image: Adam Levey

Power Aid

THIS MICROPROCESSOR TAKES A BYTE OUT OF ENERGY WASTE

From iPhones to the growing wave of MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices), we’ve become a society obsessed with handheld entertainment. But powering all this gee-whiz gear takes some serious juice. Video applications and complicated networking systems tax a device’s computer chips and batteries, which means you’ve got to suck more electricity from the grid to charge up more often. So unless you carry around solar panels (and you can, but that’s another story), a considerable amount of carbon is required to keep everyone logged on to Facebook and Outlook from their BlackBerries. Enter the super-fast, low-power Intel Atom Processor. Released in March, this chip is specifically designed for the palm-sized devices of today. The teensy microprocessor (their smallest ever—you could fit about 25 of them in your hand) improves the energy efficiency of handheld devices by about 10 times that of Intel’s 2006 model, which means you won’t have to plug in as much. We’re not saying the Atom is going to save the world—silicon chips still take a lot of water to create—but at least it’s doing its itty-bitty part. —Christian DeBenedetti