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This article was published on July 9, 2015


IBM has created the tiniest, densest computer chips in the world

IBM has created the tiniest, densest computer chips in the world Image by: Darryl Bautista/Feature Photo Service for IBM
Owen Williams
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Owen Williams

Former TNW employee

Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.

IBM, not Intel, says it has created the world’s densest computer chips, at just 7-nanometers.

By comparison, competitors like Intel have been struggling to shrink their consumer chips down below 14-nanometers. The company is currently commercializing 10-nanometer chips.

IBM said that it now has working chips — which are still in the research phase — at the record-shattering size.

IBM actually shed its semiconductor business in 2014, paying $1.5 billion to offload it to Globalfoundries. Instead, it licenses the technology it develops to be manufactured by Globalfoundries, which also builds chips for Broadcom, Qualcomm and AMD.

The New York Times said that by comparison, “a strand of DNA is about 2.5 nanometers in diameter and a red blood cell is roughly 7,500 nanometers in diameter.”

The new technology uses extreme ultraviolet light to etch the chips, which requires “specialized stabilized buildings” to ensure the equipment does not vibrate during the process.

IBM would not provide a timeline for when it would begin manufacturing at the new size.

If IBM can beat Intel to commercializing 7-nanometer chips, it could mean that Intel has finally been beaten at its own game.

IBM Announces Computer Chips More Powerful Than Any in Existence [NYT]