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Two AA batteries pass 3.6 million gigabits

Herald the dawn of Loki, Norse god of mischief and now high-speed chip-to-chip signaling.

Rambus, the company everyone seems to love to hate, at the International Solid State Circuits Conference showed off for the first time a technology code-named Loki that it says could significantly cut down the energy consumed by input/output devices.

The experimental device can operate at 6.25 gigabits per second and pass information at 2.2 milliwatts per gigabit. Similar products on the market now can transfer more gigabits per second, but they operate at around 15 to 30 milliwatts per gigabit. Ergo, they consumer more power, a situation that gets worse and gigabits per second increase.

For the novelty factor, Rambus also hooked up a system so that Loki would be powered by two AA batteries. The chip churned for more than 40 hours and passed 3.6 petabits of data before it conked. That's 3.6 million gigabits.

With computer designers facing power consumption ceilings, companies have to look at every component as a way to eke out efficiency, said Robert Palmer, a researcher at Rambus who served as the primary author on the company's paper on Loki.

Ultimately, Rambus may try to license the technology.