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IBM to spend $3B in chip technology research, dev't

11 Jul 2014

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Bridge to a "Post-Silicon" era

Silicon transistors, tiny switches that carry information on a chip, have been made smaller year after year, but they are approaching a point of physical limitation. Their increasingly small dimensions, now reaching the nanoscale, will prohibit any gains in performance due to the nature of silicon and the laws of physics. Within a few more generations, classical scaling and shrinkage will no longer yield the sizable benefits of lower power, lower cost, and higher speed processors that the industry has become accustomed to.

With virtually all electronic equipment today built on complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology, there is an urgent need for new materials and circuit architecture designs compatible with this engineering process as the technology industry nears physical scalability limits of the silicon transistor.

Beyond 7nm, the challenges dramatically increase, requiring a new kind of material to power systems of the future, and new computing platforms to solve problems that are unsolvable or difficult to solve today. Potential alternatives include new materials such as carbon nanotubes, and non-traditional computational approaches such as neuromorphic computing, cognitive computing, machine learning techniques, and the science behind quantum computing.

As the leader in advanced schemes that point beyond traditional silicon-based computing, IBM holds over 500 patents for technologies that will drive advancements at 7nm and beyond silicon—more than twice the nearest competitor. These continued investments will accelerate the invention and introduction into product development for IBM's highly differentiated computing systems for cloud and big data analytics.

Several exploratory research breakthroughs that could lead to major advancements in delivering dramatically smaller, faster, and more powerful computer chips, include quantum computing, neurosynaptic computing, silicon photonics, carbon nanotubes, III-V technologies, low power transistors and graphene.


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