The American IT company IBM announced that after a research of an international research consortium, on which the same company is in charge, the creation of a computer microprocessor (chip) has been achieved. This chip is 4 times more powerful than the most powerful chips available today on the markets.
This new chip has so much power thanks to the evolution of nanotechnology, which created a design with more transistors than ever before. According to the New York Times, each transistor was shrined down to a size of just 7 nanometres – for the record, in case you didn’t know, 1 nanometre equals 1.0 × 10-6 millimetres (that is 0.000001 mm)!
Today, the most powerful chips have 14 nm transistors, while next year we expect to see a production of the first chips with 10 nm transistors. IBM states that, thanks to the further shrinkage to the scale of 7 nm, it will be possible to manufacture chips that will have more than 20 billion transistors.
Intel, the world’s leader on the semiconductors market, is facing some technical difficulties lately on creating more powerful and faster chips with constantly more transistors. IBM on the other side, has invested 3 billion dollars to create a new generation of microprocessors with even more dense transistors, in collaboration with numerous public and private bodies (among many of them we also found Samsung).
Until today, the chip industry has managed to respond to the so called “Moore’s Law”. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, “Moore’s law” is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years. However with the current generation of the 14 nm chips there have been some serious doubts about the ability to follow “Moore’s Law” in the future.
IBM’s new chips that are still on a research level, show that the semiconductors technology will continue to shrink the company’s products at least until 2018.
IBM’s chips are not based only on silicon, but on a combination of silicon and another chemical component which is called germanium. The addition of this new material allows the faster operation of the transistors (besides their shrinkage), as well as the decrease of energy consumption.
For comparison only with the 7 nm transistor, note that the helix of the DNA molecule has a diameter of about 2.5 nanometres while a red blood cell has a diameter of about 7,500 nanometres.
The international semiconductors industry now faces the dilemma of whether the silicon-germanium technique should be adopted for all future complete circuits that will be manufactures. IBM from its point of view, refused to estimate when the massive production of those new super-chips could begin.
However, the production phase can’t be that far according even to “Moore’s Law”. This means that soon we will have computers and other devices with multiple power than now, more than ever before. This step is a breakthrough not only for consumers but also for scientists and other researchers that will be able to process new things with the help of such powerful chips.