Major breakthrough in chip power supply

THE worldwide 12 billion computer chip power supply production industry is set to be transformed by an Irish engineering breakthrough which has the potential to create hundreds of jobs in Ireland.

Research engineers from University College Cork, working at the NMRC ICT research institute, have achieved a major technological breakthrough that could see companies based in Ireland taking an international lead in the worldwide ICT power supply market estimated to be worth 12 billion.

George Young, managing director of Commergy, an advanced power supply products provider, said the power supply industry could be transformed through the commercialisation of the breakthrough.

Dr Cian Ó Mathúna, assistant director at NMRC, who is leading the research, described the breakthrough as a paradigm shift for the industry.

He disclosed that worldwide patent protection had been taken out on the microtechnology that offers the potential to overcome a major bottleneck in the delivery of power to future microprocessors chips.

"The patent is the end result of 10 years research in this area, funded by Enterprise Ireland through PEI Technologies.

"The technology will play a significant part in the miniaturisation of electronic devices such as mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants and point-of-care devices for biomedical diagnosis," said Dr Ó Mathúna. It is anticipated that over-capacity at the lower end of the computer chip industry could be utilised to manufacture the new power supply chips which will replace bulky internal power supply units inside mobile phones, laptops and similar devices.

Technologies that can be sold which are being researched in Ireland to meet the challenges facing the power supply were presented at a workshop by researchers from University College Cork, University of Limerick, NUI Galway and NMRC.

At the workshop senior Intel materials technologist Ed Stanford, expressed concerns that power supply technologies cannot at present meet the requirements of microprocessors in the future.

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