You know, it's been nearly forty years since Intel introduced the first microprocessor, and even at this late date the company comprises a whopping eighty percent of the global market for CPUs. But not so fast! Like an electronics industry remake of The Magnificent Seven (which is, of course, an American remake of The Seven Samurai) NEC and Renesas have teamed up with a stalwart band of companies, including Hitachi, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Panasonic, and Canon, to develop a new CPU that is compatible with Waseda University professor Hironori Kasahara's "innovative energy-saving software." The goal is to create a commercial processor that runs on solar cells, moderates power use according to the amount of data being processed (a current prototype runs on 30% the power of a standard CPU), remains on even when mains power is cut, and, of course, upsets the apple cart over at Intel. Once a standard is adopted and the chip is used in a wide range of electronics, firms will be able to realize massive savings on software development. The new format is expected to to be in place by the end of 2012. [Warning: Read link requires subscription]

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