In recent decades, processors have reduced in size and price to the point that they are now commonly used in everything from televisions to washing machines and watches. But almost all chips manufactured today are rigid devices created on silicon wafers in highly specialised and costly factories where dozens of complex chemical and mechanical processes take up to eight weeks from start to finish. Now, Arm has developed a 32-bit processor called PlasticARM with circuits and components that are printed onto a plastic substrate, just as a printer deposits ink on paper. James Myers at Arm says the processor can run a variety of programs, although it currently uses read-only memory so is only able to execute the code it was built with. Future versions will use fully programmable and flexible memory.
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