In the recent VLSI Symposium that took place in Honolulu earlier this month (don’t you love it, engineers, when symposia and conferences are in Hawaii?) new advances in CMOS technology were presented. What is interesting about this is that this specific work is aimed to make random number generators (a key component of slot machines for example, but also the main reason the Internet is secure – is it? – nowadays) much smaller.

Random number generators are currently analog and these analog components are the main reason of their “big” size. Research is being conducted aiming in a fully digitalization of these components and these makes the generator more random due to the effect of metastability.

The device generates billions of random bits per second and can run at very low voltage. The circuit takes advantage of a phenomenon that is a bugaboo for designers of logic that uses more than one clock. The Intel team engineered the number generator so that in each string of numbers turned out by the machine, every bit is the result of ”metastability.

Will this make it more unlikely to win the Harley Davidson at the slot machine in Excalibur Hotel and Casino? Anyhow, we will always have Black Jack and the movie “21”…