Engineers at the University of Michigan currently hold the record for building the world’s smallest computer. With just 0.3 millimeters edge length, a grain of rice looks huge in comparison.
St. Ann Arbor (USA). It’s been a very nerdy showdown that has been taking place between the engineers at the University of Mishiganand IBM for several years . Again and again, the two sides trump the construction of the smallest computer in the world. This time, the University of Michigan is back in the lead. The engineers have built a computer with an edge length of only 0.3 millimeters.
The world record for the smallest computer held the University of Michigan since 2014. At that time, the scientists have built a chip with the name Michigan Micro Mote, which was only 2x2x4 millimeters small. The Michigan Micro Mote (or M3 called) is fully functional and retains its programming and data even when it runs out of power .
Backlash from IBM
In February 2018 IBM presented its even smaller computer with a diameter of only 1×1 millimeters and several hundred thousand transistors. To better understand this size, the IBM engineers photographed their computer on a small pile of sea salt (see picture above).
IBM was beaten again
Of course, the University of Michigan experts did not want to sit back and construct an even smaller computer on it. With an edge length of just 0.3 millimeters, it is so small that a grain of rice looks like a giant Zeppelin in proportion.
Only a chip or a full computer?
In the race of the two parties, however, a question remains on the track: Do the tiny chips actually count as fully fledged computers? The engineers on both sides are a bit divided on themselves, because many of the small computers lose all data when the devices are turned off or lose their power source.
“We’re not sure if these chips should really be called computers,” admits David Blaauw, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Michigan. “It’s a matter of interpretation if the devices meet the minimum functionality requirements of a computer,” he adds.
The duel brings out useful techniques
But no matter whether you want to call the small components a chip or a computer, the tiny technology can be used in many ways, especially in medicine or other important areas of life.