The DOE’s early stage program to award $27M for 14 efficient grid electronics projects

The U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program — which allocates small grants to early stage, high risk technologies — has launched a new project focused on efficient power grid electronics. Say wha? When electricity flows across, on and off the grid it has to go through a lot of inefficient conversion devices. This program, called SWITCH, will give funds to 14 projects working on more efficient power conversion technologies mostly at the transistor manufacturing level. More info and project winners here.

How mobility is stressing the chip industry

Qualcomm can’t find enough capacity to manufacture chips designed for mobile phones. These troubles will become more common as the physics that govern how we make semiconductors buckles under the demands of our increasingly mobile lives, where we demand low power and high performance.

Today in Cloud

Intel announced new chips yesterday, incorporating a new three-dimensional manufacturing process to fit more processing capability into a smaller space whilst consuming less power and costing less to manufacture. GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham described the announcement as “significant, but not as big of a breakthrough as I hoped for,” and Arik Hesseldahl at the Wall Street Journal‘s All Things Digital notes that the concept was first announced way back in 2002… and may not result in shipping chips until the end of 2011 or early 2012. Over at InfoWorld, Ted Samson flags the concern that processors optimised for mobile devices may be much further off. Chips need to consume less power as we use more of them, more often. Apparently, we also have an insatiable demand for more powerful processors. Intel’s announcement meets both those requirements, and keeps things moving nicely along the path predicted by Gordon Moore almost 50 years ago.

How Low Power Chips Can Beat Back Vampire Power

IBM thinks that tunnel field-effect transistors could cut transistor power use by tenfold and virtually eliminate vampire power, and it’s working with European researchers to bring the idea from lab to market in six to 10 years.