IBM, an American tech giant, has revealed a breakthrough in semiconductor (SC) design & process by developing the world's first 2-nanometre chip tech, offering a proof of concept for what chips running driverless vehicles, smartphones & more will look like in the future. The 2nm refers to the transistor size on a chip. Firms can fit more transistors on a chip, creating them more efficient & robust.
SC plays crucial roles in everything from computing to transportation systems, appliances, critical infrastructure & communication devices. The demand for increased chip energy efficiency & performance continues to grow, especially in AI, IoT & hybrid cloud. The tech giant's latest 2nm chip helps advance the cutting-edge in the SC industry, addressing its growing demand. It is estimated to achieve 45% higher performance or 75% lower energy utilization than today's most advanced 7nm node chips.
According to IBM's response to AnandTech, this chip holds 333Mn transistors per sq. mm. So, the chip has the size of a fingernail (150 sq. mm) can have as many as 50Bn transistors. In comparison, the 5-nanometre chips developed by the Taiwan SC Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which run on most smartphones today, have over 171Mn transistors per sq. mm.
The no. of transistors on a chip is vital because of Moore's Law, a guiding concept in chip designing given by Ex-Intel CEO Gordon Moore in 1965. The law states that the no. of transistors on an integrated circuit (IC) will double every 2 years, which doubles the performance. While the law started failing when firms reached the 10-nanometre mark, expanding the no. of transistors on chips remains a vital feature of chip design.
Benefits of these advanced chips include:
- Quadruple battery life on smartphones only requires users to charge their devices every 4 days.
- Minimize the carbon footprint of data centers, which account for 1% use of global energy. Changing all of their servers to 2nm processors could significantly minimize that number.
- Exponential speed of laptop functions, ranging from swift application processing to helping language translation more efficiently, faster internet access.
- Faster object detection & reaction time in autonomous vehicles.
The tech giant stated in a blog that more transistors also mean processor designers have numerous options to infuse core-level innovations to enhance potentials for leading-edge workloads such as cloud computing, AI, & new path for hardware-enforced encryption & security. The IBM innovation considered in this novel 2nm chip is vital to the entire IT & SC industry.
SVP & Director of IBM Research - Dario Gil stated, "It is the product of IBM's method of taking on hard technology challenges & a demonstration of how breakthroughs can be obtained from sustained investments & a collaborative R&D ecosystem procedure." IBM's novel design is only a proof of concept, meaning one should not expect a real 2-nanometre chip on smartphones or other devices for at least a few years.
At the moment, leading chip designers such as TSMC & Samsung are offering 5-nanometre chips in their foundries, while PC chip giant - Intel is just scratching the 7-nanometre mark. TSMC had mentioned earlier that it plans to begin 4-nanometre chip production by the end of 2021 & 3-nanometre chips are expected in the 2nd half of 2022.
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