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Sometimes it’s good to be imperfect. Researchers from Rice University in Houston,Texas, have discovered that a less accurate microchip uses only a fraction of the electricity of today’s microprocessors. In fact, the new microchip is 7.5 times more efficient when calculations were allowed to be off by as little as one fourth of one percent.

When the errors were in images, the viewers’ eyes automatically corrected them, making the mistakes impossible to spot, even if the error rate doubled. When the errors went up to 8 percent, they were still barely noticeable, and the power efficiency increased 15 percent.  Applications for this research include embedded microchips like those used in hearing aids, cameras and other devices.

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