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New Way to Patch Defective Hardware 238

brunascle writes "Researchers have devised a new way to patch hardware. By treating a computer chip more like software than hardware, Josep Torrellas, a computer science professor from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, believes we will be able to fix defective hardware by a applying a patch, similar to the way defective software is handled. His system, dubbed Phoenix, consists of a standard semiconductor device called a field programmable gate array (FPGA). Although generally slower than their application-specific integrated circuit counterparts, FPGAs have the advantage of being able to be modified post-production. Defects found on a Phoenix-enabled chip could be resolved by downloading a patch and applying it to the hardware. Torrellas believes this would give chips a shorter time to market, saying "If they know that they could fix the problems later on, they could beat the competition to market.""

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