TechFarmer Explores IBM’s 7nm Chip
We are used to hearing that something new and exciting is being developed by Intel when it comes to developing processors. However, this time IBM is taking the spotlight. IBM recently announced that they have produced and are currently testing the world’s first 7 nanometer chip. That in itself is exciting as the current microprocessors that are being used in today’s high tech devices are between 14 and 22 nanometers. But don’t let the small size fool you as the IBM’s 7nm chip can hold more than 20 billion tiny switches or transistors. That is an impressing performance improvement, especially for its size. To put things in perspective, the diameter of a strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers!
Over the next five years IBM will be investing three billion dollars to perfect this technology. A lot of different technologies will benefit from this if the processor delivers. Cloud computing is one of them. As computing is increasing, there is a huge need to shrink and multiply devices to allow for more computing power at a smaller size. Many technology companies are working on decreasing the size footprint of current machines. Imagine a quarter of current data center server equipment fitting on one single server rack?! A lot can be done with that computing power.
This month GlobalFoundries completed the acquisition of IBM’s chip making business. Even though the research continues, GlobalFoundries will be IBM’s exclusive processor chip provider for the next 10 years as they are a member of the research group that is working on the new 7nm chip. Because there are physical limitations of existing materials, the “potential alternatives include new materials such as carbon nanotubes and non-traditional computational approaches” (IBM 2014). Click here to see a wonderful summary graphic that was created by IBM to explain this technological breakthrough.