Dead Phones No More! IBM Can Quadruple Your Phone Battery With New Nanochip

A close-up of a 2 nm wafer fabricated at IBM Research's Albany facility, with individual chips visible to the naked eye. Courtesy of IBM.

IBM has unveiled a breakthrough in computer chip semiconductor design with the development of the world’s first chip announced with 2 nanometre (nm) nanosheet technology.

The foundation of data processing chips, semiconductors play critical roles in the calculations performed by computers, appliances, communication devices, transportation systems, and critical infrastructure.

But demand for faster and more efficient semiconductors has never been higher. IBM appears to have met the challenge with a breakthrough in this technology.

With transistor components as small as 2nm, IBM’s new chips are capable of fitting up to 50 billion transistors (a type of semiconductor) on a space “the size of a fingernail”, IBM said in an online statement.

The higher the number of transistors, the more powerful and energy efficient the chip.

This marks an increase from IBM’s prior breakthrough with chips that had transistor components as small as 5nm, which were capable of holding 30 billion transistors.

Once the company is capable of manufacturing its 2nm chips at full-scale, the result of this latest breakthrough should see an increase in computer performance.

According to IBM, increasing the number of transistors per chip can make them smaller, faster, more reliable, and more efficient.

More transistors on a chip also means processor designers have more options to infuse core-level innovations to improve capabilities for leading edge workloads, IBM said, including for AI and cloud computing.

IBM added that the advance could open new pathways for hardware-enforced security and encryption.

The new chip is projected to achieve 45 percent higher performance, or 75 per cent lower energy use, than today’s most advanced 7nm node chips, the design of which IBM also lists as one of its prior breakthroughs.

IBM’s 2nm technology as seen using transmission electron microscopy. 2nm is smaller than the width of a single strand of human DNA. (Source: IBM)

The potential benefits of these advanced 2nm chips could include:

  • Quadrupling mobile phone battery life, only requiring users to charge their devices every four days
  • Slashing the carbon footprint of data centres, which account for one percent of global energy use. Changing all of their servers to 2nm-based processors, IBM said, could potentially reduce that number significantly
  • Drastically speeding up a laptop’s functions, ranging from quicker processing in applications, to assisting in language translation more easily, to faster internet access
  • Contributing 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,” IBM Research SVP and director Dario Gil said.

“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.”

This latest breakthrough builds on decades of work by IBM Research 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.

Here, IBM scientists work in close collaboration with public and private sector partners to push the boundaries of logic scaling and semiconductor capabilities.

Featured image source: IBM

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