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Hardware back in the tech-industry spotlight

​"Hardware is back" is the theme of the upcoming Leti Innovation Days with STMicroelectronics and Intel Corporation on June 22, 2021. The need to focus on innovations in hardware is more pressing than ever given the exponential increase in the energy consumption of systems expected in the coming years.

Published on 10 June 2021

​Digital systems and services account for around 4% of global energy consumption today—a figure that could rise to nearly 25% by 2030 if nothing is done. With everything from phones and cars to entire factories going digital, the number of connected devices and the associated data traffic are growing extremely rapidly. Which means higher energy consumption—much higher. In fact, the amount of energy used by digital systems and services will have to be reduced by a factor of 100 to 1,000 within the next decade to keep energy consumption under control.

This is a huge challenge that will require substantial technological breakthroughs—and hardware innovation is the only way through it. Significant advances will have to be made in embedded AI hardware, for example, an area where power consumption still has much room for improvement. AI is particularly power-hungry, especially during learning, which is currently mainly done in cloud computing configurations. Quantum computing is another area that will need attention if it is to deliver on its promise of high-performance computing at a reasonable cost. 

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