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The World’s Smallest Computer Looks Tiny Next to a Grain of Rice

The World’s Smallest Computer Looks Tiny Next to a Grain of Rice

In March, IBM unveiled something pretty impressive: What they called the world’s tiniest computer, which measured one millimeter by one millimeter, costs less than 10 cents to make, and boasts “a processor with ‘several hundred thousand’ transistors, SRAM memory, a photo-voltaic cell for power, and a communications unit that uses an LED and a photo-detector to talk with the outside world,” as The Verge notes.

That’s pretty cool, but the folks at the University of Michigan saw that news and had a fun laugh, because they had something even more spectacular up their sleeves. While IBM’s tiny computer had beaten their old smallness record, they’ve now reclaimed the throne. Just a few days ago, the university announced that they once again have the world’s smallest computer with a gadget that measures .3 millimeters by .3 millimeters.

Furthermore, the machine challenges the definition of what a computer is. In the case of the computer (or phone) you’re probably reading this on, all the information on it (data, programs, etc.) remain on it when turned off and back on. But that’s not the case with these tiny machines. David Blaauw, one of the professors who led the development of the computer, says, “We are not sure if they should be called computers or not. It’s more of a matter of opinion whether they have the minimum functionality required.”

The university notes that applications for a computer of this size could include pressure sensing inside the eye for glaucoma diagnosis, cancer studies, oil reservoir monitoring, biochemical process monitoring, audio and visual surveillance, and tiny snail studies.

What do you think of this, the world’s smallest computer? What would you use a computer this small for? Let us know what you think down in the comments!

Featured image: University of Michigan

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