While scientists and researchers couldn’t stress less on the importance of accuracy of results by a computer chip, recent study done collaboratively by Rice University, University of California, Nanyang Technological University and Center for Electronics and Micro-technology in Switzerland states that it is not efficient for computer chips to be always “exact”. A significantly large amount of energy and performance is wasted to achieve accurate results. Researchers in this case allowed the chip to make wrong decisions in certain cases adjusting their effect by using probabilistic methods instead of wasting huge amounts of energy and performance on such operations.
The technology is similar to “pruning” in which case certain parts of circuits are removed, which in turn brings down the size of the chip, doubles performance and reduces power consumption to half. The correct trade-off between accuracy and efficiency is required though to yield optimum results. For e.g. if you are ready to give up 8 percent accuracy you would be able to get 15 times more power efficient chips.
Such chips are more suitable for computers used in specific applications where error to a level can be tolerated. Some of the examples include hearing aids, cameras, image processing applications, etc. The technology has been listed as one of the top 10 emerging ones by MIT’s Technology Review that would alter industries and change our lives.