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PlasticARM bends, doesn’t break: ARM’s 32-bit plastic chip for edge and IoT

Categories Edge Computing News  |  Hardware
PlasticARM bends, doesn’t break: ARM’s 32-bit plastic chip for edge and IoT

UK chip-designer ARM demonstrated a prototype chip this week called PlasticARM. Unlike the silicon chips we are used to, the new chip can fit to curved or uneven surfaces. The product is fairly basic for now—the program code can’t be changed or updated after fabrication—but ARM argues it can be mass-produced at low cost, giving it potential for IoT and other edge deployments.

The first PlasticARM was built in 2015 but fabrication limits meant it was not possible to make a fully working prototype until flexible chip maker specialist PragmaticIC, based down the road from ARM, came up with a new manufacturing process. The technology is described in exacting detail in an article in the Nature journal. Now, PlasticARM will be offered commercially by PragmaticIC as FlexLogIC.

The crucial selling point is these chips can be used with paper foil or plastic substrates. ARM says millions of everyday objects, including packaging, clothing and bandages, could benefit from having a chip embedded. More specific use cases include identification and provenance tracking, safety or freshness indicators for fast-moving consumer goods and smart patches for wound care. In retail and healthcare, tracking remains a major issue; lost and missing equipment and medicine is a major cost for hospitals while retailers still find it difficult to track stock from warehouse to shop side.

Source: PragmatIC

Source: PragmatIC

ARM called the development “A significant leap forward in realizing the Internet of Things.” For once this is not marketing hyperbole.

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