On April 19, 1965, an article featured in the Electronics Magazine by a electrical engineering researcher from CalTech, has held us firm on the fact that computing power will double only once every two years, as put forward by the one and only Gordon Moore in his research papers. Many might not know this, but he went on to start the chipset-making giant Intel.
But in recent years, scientists have been straining themselves to accommodate computing capabilities in as tiny electronic structures as possible. IBM Research’s mega-fund flow into next-generation chipset technology looks to be already reaping off.
The company, working with GlobalFoundries, Samsung, SUNY, and various equipment suppliers, has announced (via NYT) that it’s possible to produce chips just 7 nanometers wide—or about the width of a few strands of DNA. Big Blue will have the honor of claiming it to be the industry’s first. 12 months ago, IBM announced that it would invest $3bn over five years to develop new chipmaking technologies that have a shot of breaking the 7nm barrier.
According to IBM, this could lead to a 50% performance and power boost over chips that are on the market today, effectively keeping Moore’s Law more or less intact for the time being. The 7nm test chip with working transistors was created using processes cooked up by its research team including Silicon Germanium (SiGe) channel transistors and Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.
However, it’s worth mentioning that actual availability of this technology is a long bet; at least two years away. IBM has confirmed that it is close to achieving this significant breakthrough.
Last week, IBM had closed the deal to sell off its microelectronics biz to Global Foundries, which the former manufacturing arm of AMD and currently the largest privately held semiconductor company.
Intel is struggling to design 10nm transistors from the existing 14nm standards, while ibm is already scaling new heights in the chipset space, and asserts that it will give 5nm transistors a spin.
Moore’s law is the centre of all of the advancements humanity might make in computing, right from desktops to smartphones over the last four decades. One thing is clear: we can’t write off IBM, yet. the company may have lost out in the PC and server businesses, but it’s a player to reckon with in the Big Data, chipset technology and machine learning.