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IBM Unveils Potentially Breakthrough Computer Chip

The new seven-nanometer chip represents 'at least a 50% power-performance improvement' and could boost the computing power of everything from 'smartphones to spacecraft.'

NEW YORK — IBM unveiled a powerful new chip Thursday that the company says could boost computing power of “everything from smartphones to spacecraft” – the industry’s first seven-nanometer chip, which could hold more than 20 billion tiny switches or transistors for improved computing power.

The new chips could help meet demands of future cloud computing and Big Data systems, cognitive computing, mobile products and other emerging technologies, according to IBM, which developed the chip as part of a $3 billion research effort with Samsung and GlobalFoundries at the State University of New York at Albany.

Most chips today in PCs and other devices use microprocessors between 14 and 22 nanometers. The new technology this represents “at least a 50% power-performance improvement.”

“Enabling the first 7nm node transistors is a significant milestone for the entire semiconductor industry as we continue to push beyond the limitations of our current capabilities,” said Michael Liehr, the university’s vice president of innovation and research.  

The research focused on getting around the physical limitations of existing materials, and was able to develop silicon-germanium transistors to boost processing power.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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