IBM unveils world’s first 2nm chip technology for semiconductors

May 08, 2021 | 09:45
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Global tech giant IBM today unveiled a breakthrough in semiconductor design and process with the development of the world’s first chip featuring 2 nanometer (nm) nanosheet technology.
ibm unveils worlds first 2nm chip technology for semiconductors
IBM’s new 2nm chips offer multiple benefits to the semiconductor industry

IBM’s new 2nm chip technology helps advance the state-of-the-art in the semiconductor industry, addressing growing demand. It is projected to achieve 45 per cent higher performance, or 75 per cent lower energy use, than today’s most advanced 7nm node chips.

The potential benefits of these advanced 2nm chips could include quadrupling cell phone battery life, only requiring users to charge their devices every four days; slashing the carbon footprint of data centres which account for 1 per cent of global energy use; and drastically speeding up a laptop's functions, ranging from quicker processing in applications to assisting in language translation more easily to faster internet access.

The new chips also contribute to faster object detection and reaction time in autonomous vehicles like self-driving cars.

“The IBM innovation reflected in this new 2nm chip is essential to the entire semiconductor and IT industry,” said Darío Gil, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “It is the product of IBM’s approach of taking on hard tech challenges and a demonstration of how breakthroughs can result from sustained investments and a collaborative R&D ecosystem approach.”

Demand for increased chip performance and energy efficiency continues to rise, especially in the era of hybrid cloud, AI, and the Internet of Things.

Semiconductors play critical roles in everything from computing to appliances, communication devices, transportation systems, and critical infrastructure.

Demand for increased chip performance and energy efficiency continues to rise, especially in the era of hybrid cloud, AI, and the Internet of Things.

This latest breakthrough builds on decades of IBM leadership in semiconductor innovation.

The company’s semiconductor development efforts are based at its research lab located at the Albany Nanotech Complex in Albany, New York, where IBM scientists work in close collaboration with public and private sector partners to push the boundaries of logic scaling and semiconductor capabilities.

This collaborative approach to innovation makes IBM Research Albany a world-leading ecosystem for semiconductor research and creates a strong innovation pipeline, helping to address manufacturing demands and accelerate the growth of the global chip industry.

IBM's legacy of semiconductor breakthroughs also includes the first implementation of 7nm and 5nm process technologies, single cell DRAM, chemically amplified photoresists, copper interconnect wiring, silicon on Insulator technology, multi core microprocessors, and more. IBM’s first commercialised offering including IBM Research 7nm advancements will debut later this year in IBM POWER10-based IBM Power Systems.

Increasing the number of transistors per chip can make them smaller, faster, more reliable, and more efficient. The 2nm design demonstrates the advanced scaling of semiconductors using IBM’s nanosheet technology.

Developed less than four years after IBM announced its milestone 5nm design, this latest breakthrough will allow the 2nm chip to fit up to 50 billion transistors on a chip the size of a fingernail.

More transistors on a chip means processor designers have more options to infuse core-level innovations to improve capabilities for leading edge workloads like AI and cloud computing, as well as new pathways for hardware-enforced security and encryption. IBM is already implementing other innovative core-level enhancements in the latest generations of IBM hardware, like IBM POWER10 and IBM z15.

By Anh Duc

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