The Download: some good climate news, and a revolutionary new chip design

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This is today's edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what's going on in the world of technology.

A few pieces of good news on climate change (and a reality check)

When it comes to the climate, the picture can look bleak.

Emissions of the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change are estimated to have reached new heights in 2022. Meanwhile, climate disasters, from record heat waves in China and Europe to devastating floods in Pakistan, seem to be hitting at a breakneck pace.

But a close look at global data shows that there are a few bright spots of good news, and a lot of potential progress ahead. Renewable sources make up a growing fraction of the energy supply, and they’re getting cheaper every year. Countries are also  setting new targets for emissions reductions, and unprecedented public investments could unlock more technological advances. 

So despite what can feel like a barrage of bad news, there are at least a few reasons to be hopeful. Read the full story.

—Casey Crownhart

These simple design rules could turn the chip industry on its head

Since the computer was invented, humans have devised many programming languages to command them to do our bidding. For a chip to execute your code, software must translate it into instructions a chip can use. So engineers designate specific binary sequences to prompt the hardware to perform certain actions, known as the computer’s instruction set.  

For years, the chip industry has relied on a variety of proprietary instruction sets, which companies license for millions of dollars a pop. 

Lately, though, many hardware and software companies worldwide have begun to converge around a publicly available instruction set known as RISC-V. It’s a shift that could radically change the chip industry, and empower smaller companies and budding entrepreneurs along the way.

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