IBM Unveils 2-Nanometer Semiconductor Chip Tech for Faster Computing

IBM, on Thursday, announced their new chipmaking technology. In a world first, they unveiled tech for making 2-nanometer chips.

Chips Getting Smaller

First things first, people have heard of 10-nanometer chips, 7-nanometer chips and so on. Here, the measurement implies the size of the basic building block of a chip – the transistor. For decades, each generation of computer chips got faster and more power-efficient because transistors got smaller.

IBM reckons that there is one more generational leap in semiconductor technology in store, at least. The IT giant introduced what it says is the world’s first 2-nanometer chipmaking technology.

IBM claims that the technology could be as much as 45% faster and up to 75% more power efficient. Incidentally, IBM made these comparisons with the mainstream 7-nanometer chips, which are found in many of today’s laptops and phones.

However, the technology likely will take several years to come to market.

IBM’s New Cutting-Edge Tech

IBM outsources its chipmaking to Samsung. However, it was once a major manufacturer of chips itself.

Interestingly, it maintains a chip manufacturing research center in Albany, New York. This center produces test runs of chips and has joint technology development deals with Samsung and Intel to use IBM’s chipmaking technology.

The 2-nanometer technology comes after today’s cutting-edge 5-nanometer chips and the 3-nanometer chips that will follow soon.

IBM just showed its 2-nanometer transistor. A transistor is basically an on-off switch, which can form the 1s and 0s of the binary code. Incidentally, these 1s and 0s form the foundation of all modern computing.

At that unimaginably small scales, new problems start to arise. No doubt when making a circuit smaller, it will be faster and more efficient. That is because the electrons that flow through it will have to travel less. However, at that level, quantum weirdness makes electrons leak out of transistors even if they are off.

However, scientists at IBM Research found a problem to that solution, according to Dario Gil, Senior VP and Director at IBM Research. Gil told Reuters in an interview that scientists were able to drape sheets of insulating material just a few nanometers thick to stop electrons leaking.

“In the end, there’s transistors, and everything else (in computing) relies on whether that transistor gets better or not. And it’s not a guarantee that there will be a transistor advance generation to generation anymore. So it’s a big deal every time we get a chance to say there will be another,” Gil said.

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