Solar-powered processor a glimpse of the future?

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A solar cell the size of a stamp. That’s all Intel Corp. researchers needed to power a computer processor that could hold a tantalizing vision for the low-power chips of the future.

The company showed off the feat this week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco.

The achievement was less about the fact the chip ran on solar power and more about how Intel employees were able to create a chip that ran on little more than the power needed to turn on its transistors, the so-called “threshold” voltage.

Intel’s chief technology officer Justin Rattner said the experimental processor was 5 times more energy efficient than today’s processors. But he emphasized that it is nowhere near ready for prime time.