The 7nm functional chip by IBM will be the most powerful processor chip in existence.
Today IBM announced it has produced a 7nm node test chip which is fully functional. Currently the fastest processors in the world are being made on a 14nm chip and there were plans of coming up with a 10nm chip by 2016. However IBM has redefined innovation by announcing it has become the world’s first tech giant to have come up with a 7nm chip.
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A 7nm node chip although small in size will give rise to one of the most powerful processors in the world. Previously Intel had been ruling the processor market with leading discoveries but it seems IBM is on its way to the number one spot in the processor industry.
According to IBM shrinking chips had been a major challenge and had remained out of their reach for a long time due to an array of technological obstacles. The most major problem was the composition and properties of silicon used in the chips.
Credit: IBM Research
The solution was found by IBM when they came up with a new silicon alloy the silicon-germanium (SiGe) with the help of collaborations between Samsung and the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. The new silicone alloy allows better electron mobility at microscopic levels and also uses Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) for the microscopic patterns into the chips.
Back in 2012 IBM had come up with a 9nm transistor built with carbon nanotubes, but was not viable for mass production. The new 7nm transistors produced with SiGe are more viable for mass production.
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Although it may be a few years until the 7nm chips come to the mass production phase, but once the processors powered by 7m chips come into the market they will be have twice the power density than the processors used today.