Minima Processor is releasing a solution to the market that has broken the world record for energy efficiency. The new technology increases the energy efficiency of digital information
processing by five to ten times
– or even 20 times in extreme cases.
The IoT devices now on the markets are not as small and efficient as everyone would like. This is due to their power consumption, which needs to fall to a tenth or less of its current level.
– There is no equivalent technology on the market. Other companies are aiming at ultra-low power consumption in digital computing, but our approach is quite different and better, says Jani Mäkipää from Minima Processor.
It involves minimum energy point operation. The minimum energy point is the operating voltage at which a single command consumes the least energy in relative terms. Minima Processor stands out from its competitors in how it reaches this point.
Reaching the minimum energy point is laborious and time consuming – in other words, expensive – via legacy design methods. With Minima, the idea is that circuit operation seeks the correct operating point automatically, rather than through manual tuning.
At best, a single assignment takes only around two to three months.
Mäkipää compares Minima’s technology to air travel:
– Imagine being able to travel around the world with no need for stopovers or transfer time between planes – you just keep flying onwards despite changing planes. Minima offers a similar approach when accelerating the operations of digital microcircuits and thereby reducing power consumption.
– The problems facing electronic devices can also be solved using more powerful batteries and resource-efficient software. Improved circuit technology is the starting point for our solution, which is the first genuinely new circuit-based approach of this century for digital computing, Mäkipää says.
The solution is compatible with legacy energy-
saving technologies and digital computing. This gives it major marketing potential.
A multi-actor project
Jani Mäkipää is the Chairman of the Board and Product Manager of VTT’s new spin-off, Minima Processor. He joined the company during its start-up phase last spring, leaving his post as a Senior Research Scientist at VTT. Since 2008 he has focused on ultra-low power digital processing.
– At VTT, I researched computing in the areas of neural computing and the threshold voltage. This didn’t lead to anything bigger. In 2007, with Lauri Koskinen of Aalto University, I began to wonder about digital computing based on ultra-low operating voltages. We had similar ideas and research between VTT and Aalto University began in an Academy of Finland project in 2008–2010. This led to follow-up projects, with the University of Turku joining us in 2013. The idea was awarded TUTL funding from Tekes in 2015–2016, says Mäkipää.
Toni Soini, the CEO of Minima, joined the project during the TUTL phase. He has twenty years of experience of industry at companies such as Nokia.
– We held discussions with over 20 international companies during the TUTL project. Funding agencies quickly became interested in the technology, as well as the customer interface. The project was entirely successful and we decided to found a company, Soini says.
Reduced energy consumption
brings new developments
Minima’s computing technology can be used in wearable electronics, smart watches, hearing aids, sports equipment and other state-of-the-art IoT devices. Lower power consumption can have a number of indirect effects.
– A service engineer will change the battery in a control unit twice a year, but Minima enables the extension of service intervals to two years, saving on costs. In addition, smaller batteries could have a beneficial effect on price, design, recycling costs and how a device feels in the hand: nice and cool rather than hot, comments Mäkipää.
Mobile phones have dominated the semiconductor industry in the last 15 years.
– But future growth in the sector will be based on IoT devices. It has been estimated that IoT devices will outnumber mobile phones by a ratio of five to one in 2020. Increasingly amazing devices enabled by digitalisation, growing processing power and falling power consumption are on their way, says Toni Soini.
How does the future of IoT look?
– IoT is not the future – it has already been with us for a long time. Progress has accelerated in recent years and is set to continue at high speed. The problem with current devices is that they consume too much energy and have limited battery life. Their functionality is limited due to lack of power, Mäkipää comments.
– IoT is a key market for Minima Processor – the firm will bring additional features and operating time to devices.
Minima Processor Oy
- Established in April 2016.
- Offices in Espoo and Oulu.
- Its patented technology is based on optimising the operating point of microcircuit.
- Organisations involved in developing the technology: VTT, Aalto University and the University of Turku.
- Funding providers: CFT Nordic Capital, VTT Ventures Ltd, Aalto University and two private investors.