Asynchronous Cellular Automaton Provides Benefits Over Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (RFT-256)
North Dakota State University scientists have created a unique asynchronous cellular automaton which is believed to have several distinct advantages over currently available field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and similar computing devices. These cellular automata are easily scaled from small circuits to large computing arrays.
- Faster than FPGAs: The cellular automata are driven by logic triggers – and therefore run at logic speed, not clock speed.
- Lower power: Individual cells only run when needed (when triggered), limiting the amount of power used.
- Naturally scalable: The cellular automata can be physically large. Because of their structure, they are easily extended without having to change the architecture of the chip.
- Less expensive: Because of the repeatable architecture, it is believed they will be cheaper than FPGAs when manufactured in quantity.
- Thermally self-regulating: Built in circuitry controls rate of computation to prevent overheating
The present invention is an initial version of a cellular automaton (CA) in which computation is driven by triggers instead of by a clock signal. A trigger is a single pulse that is generated within and used by a cell. A trigger usually signifies the arrival of a bit of data. Upon receipt of a trigger, the receiving cell generates a new pulse, thus ensuring the integrity (in particular, the duration) of the pulse. The circuitry that generates the trigger is called a trigger generator. The trigger generator delays the production of the new pulse until the circuitry within the cell has had sufficient time to process the input data bit and produce a result. The new pulse is used to latch the result and to trigger an adjacent cell. Triggers are cell-to-cell events by which cellular computations are initiated. A computation in a CA proceeds along paths of cascaded trigger events.
This technology is patented with fully preserved US patent rights (issued US patent 7,956,639), and is available for licensing/partnering opportunities.
Henry Nowak, Technology Manager
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