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article imageMoore's Law continues as IBM announces new smaller computer chips

By James Walker     Jul 9, 2015 in Technology
IBM has announced that it has successfully halved the size of the smallest components on today's computer chips to create the fastest processor ever seen using a circuit of the same area. The development continues Moore's infamous law.
The law states that the power of computers can reasonably expect to be doubled every couple of years as the size of the components are made ever smaller. Gordon Moore noted in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch that could be fitted to integrated circuits had doubled since the circuits were first created. He predicted, correctly thus far, that this would continue for the foreseeable future.
Today, IBM announced it has given new life to Moore's Law for the next two years. The smallest components on today's processors are around 14-nanometres wide but IBM today revealed a chip with components 7-nanometres wide, the same size as a red blood cell.
The BBC notes that processor manufacturers like Intel, AMD and ARM are already updating their designs to use a 10-nanometre production process but that many had feared that the technical challenges presented by downscaling from 10nm to 7nm would restrict 7nm parts from being made for some time. This would slow development and mean Moore's Law would take more than two years to evolve again. However, today IBM proved that this is not the case.
IBM wrote in a blog post: "Society is more than 50 years into the journey of silicon semiconductors, and, thanks to our work on the 7 nm node, the technology still has some runway."
The company has already built 7nm components in its development labs. It told the New York Times that it has found a way of stacking transistors closer together without them interfering with each other by using very narrow wavelengths of ultraviolet light.
Additionally, some key areas of the processor have been made from a material comprised of silicon and germanium, instead of the pure silicon on current units. IBM is intending to build a new manufacturing plant to start commercially producing the chips.
IBM expects devices to begin using 7nm processors by 2017-2018. A completed chipset would contain around 20 billion transistors, compared with the 1.9-billion transistors of a recent 14nm Intel Core i7 Broadwell processor. This would correlate directly to greatly increased performance.
More about Ibm, Processor, Chip, materials, Silicon
 
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