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UA engineer looking to make devices more energy-efficient

Posted at 7:43 AM, Jul 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-08 10:43:41-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Making our computers and mobile devices more energy-efficient.

A University of Arizona professor and his team are looking to transform how our devices store information.

Dynamic RAM (DRAM) is what our computers and laptops have to store memory. Static RAM (DRAM) is smaller and faster. It holds the items we use often and saves time by not having to go all the way to the dram. Spin Transfer Torque RAM (STTRAM) is a game changer. It can store the same amount of data as SRAM but takes up less space, making it much more energy-efficient. UA electrical and computer engineering professor, Tosiron Adegbija, is working on advancing STTRAM tech so that it eventually replaces SRAM.

He compares the difference in storage to a mini-fridge.

"So you can store the date that you know you will use most frequently in the mini-fridge, and that's what the SRAM is. The idea is that the SRAM is a source of overhead. It still consumes a lot of energy - it takes space. And so we're looking at using a different kind of material, which is the STTRAM, to replace that SRAM," said Adegbija.

Using less materials to make and less energy to fetch and store data.

"One of the things I care most about is the energy consumption. Making sure that the STTRAM is not slower than the SRAM. So you maintain the same speed of the SRAM, reducing the energy-consumption substantially without increasing the speed," said Adegbija.

And because STTRAM is much smaller, it will make it very useful to be put into cell phones and tablets.

"My expectation is that very soon we can replace computers, tablets, mobile phones with STTRAM. Like I said before, you can store a lot more in a lot less space," said Adegbija.

Adegbija's research is funded by a five-year, $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation.