Washington State University has developed a wireless network on a computer chip that could reduce energy consumption at huge data farms by as much as 20 percent. The wireless multicore chip design could also speed up data processing. The network-on-a-chip allows for wireless links between cores, resulting in less energy loss and higher data transfer speed.

The architecture uses wireless shortcuts to communicate between distant points on the computer chip. These single-hop shortcuts bypass intermediary nodes and directly connect one node to another. The team designed a miniature cell tower system on the computer chips. Similar to the way a cell phone works, the system includes a tiny, low-power transceiver, on-chip antennas, and communication protocols that enable the wireless shortcuts.

The researchers can make chips as small as 28 nanometers. More than 4 billion tiny transistors, which make up the chips, could fit on a period-sized dot. The researchers are also testing chips that use extremely high frequencies and can transmit data up to 10 times faster than current chips. Transmitting waves at high frequencies requires small chip infrastructures.