The power consumed by the central processing unit, or CPU, in a computer is significant, and most of it is converted to heat, which is a big design problem, causing a lot more power consumption by the fans and cooling systems. But perhaps not for much longer; Intel recently showed its Claremont chip, a standard Pentium design that was converted to the latest 32 nanometer process. It may be five to ten times more efficient, and is the first chip to run at "Near Threshold Voltage," the theoretical minimum voltage needed to switch a transistor. According to Hot Hardware, they didn't mean for it to be solar powered, but hooked it up to a small solar cell just to demonstrate how little power it actually used.
According to Digital Arts,
The NTV CPU is designed to bring extreme energy efficiency to computing devices, said Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer. "It's allowing us to make Intel's product more [power efficient] across the compute continuum" while reaching appropriate performance levels.
The CPU can remain at near-threshold voltage levels when not operational, which could keep laptops operational without killing battery life. That is much better than putting a PC into sleep or hibernation mode to save battery.....
The next goal is to extend the technology to other key components inside a computer.
"We are continuing to expand the use of these low-voltage techniques ... to graphics and memory," Rattner said. The technology can also be deeply embedded inside circuitry to bring more power efficiency to supercomputing.
And who knows, pretty soon our laptops will run for days without cooking our laps.