Caltech researchers create ‘self-healing’ computer chip that can fix itself

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Forget about taking your failed Macbook Air to Apple Geniuses to make it all better. In the not so distant future, our computers might be able to automatically diagnose and heal themselves in microseconds with the help of “self-healing” computer chips developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

The Caltech team has built a power amplifier that can detect its own problems and look for workarounds if something fails, like if there is insufficient power to keep the computer running. As reported by Parity News, the team tested how resilient a group of 76 self-healing chips are by “zapping them with high-power lasers.” Like a lizard that can regenerate a new tail on-the-fly as it makes it escape from an enemy, the chips were able to”repair them[selves] to keep the larger system going” within a second.

While this power amplifier is by no means an organic being that can actually grow damaged parts, it is smart enough to troubleshoot itself and come up with its own solutions without interference from researchers. That’s because they have equipped the chips with sensors that monitor everything from temperature to voltage, but leave its on-board “brain” to “make decision based on the data fed to it by the sensors” so the chip can make repairs immediately.

The hope is that the Caltech researchers will be able to apply what they learned from creating this smart power-management chip to other computer parts on a motherboard. The ultimate user-friendly computer would be one that could just fix itself when say your home-brewed hybrid hard drive/SSD setup suddenly decides to fail, so you wouldn’t miss a beat. For now, you can read all about the team’s findings in their research paper.

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