It seems counter-intuitive, but it turns out that sometimes you want your computer chips to make errors. Researchers have been experimenting with hardware that sometimes makes mistakes but uses less power as a result. They say that in many applications, such as image parsing or voice processing, a few errors don’t make a difference in the end result.
To support this new error-prone hardware, MIT has unveiled a new system called Chisel. According to the university, Chisel includes a tool that “helps programmers evaluate precisely how much error their programs can tolerate. If 1 percent of the pixels in an image are improperly rendered, will the user notice? How about 2 percent, or 5 percent? Chisel will simulate the execution of the image-rendering algorithm on unreliable hardware as many times as the programmer requests, with as many different error rates.”
Chisel builds on MIT’s earlier work on a programming language called Rely.