INNOVATION

IBM unveils world’s first 2-nanometer chip technology

Opening a new frontier for semiconductors

In Summary

•New chip milestone to propel major leaps forward in performance and energy efficiency. 

•It is projected to achieve 45 per cent higher performance, or 75 per cent lower energy use, than today’s most advanced 7 nm node chips.

The IBM's Albany Nanotech Complex/ HANDOUT
The IBM's Albany Nanotech Complex/ HANDOUT

Global business services provider–IBM has made a breakthrough in semiconductor design and process with the development of the world’s first chip with 2 nanometer (nm) nanosheet technology.

Semiconductors play critical roles in everything from computing, to appliances, to 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.

The International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation's new 2 nanometer chip technology helps advance the state-of-the-art in the semiconductor industry, addressing this growing demand.

It is projected to achieve 45 per cent higher performance, or 75 per cent lower energy use, than today’s most advanced 7 nm node chips.

The potential benefits of these advanced 2 nm chips could include quadrupling cell phone battery life, only requiring users to charge their devices every four days.

It slashes the carbon footprint of data centers, which account for one per cent of global energy use.

The system also drastically speeds up a laptop's functions, ranging from quicker processing in applications, to assisting in language translation more easily, to faster internet access.

It is also contributing to faster object detection and reaction time in autonomous vehicles like self-driving cars.

The IBM innovation reflected in this new 2 nm 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.”

According to Gil, the innovation is a demonstration of how breakthroughs can result from sustained investments and a collaborative reserch and development ecosystem approach.

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

The company has operations in Kenya.

The 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 7 nm and 5 nm process technologies, single cell DRAM, the Dennard Scaling Laws, chemically amplified photoresists and copper interconnect wiring.

It is also behind silicon on insulator technology, multi core microprocessors, High-k gate dielectrics, embedded DRAM, and 3D chip stacking.

Its first commercialized offering including IBM Research 7 nm advancements will debut later this year in IBM Power 10-based IBM Power Systems. 

Increasing the number of transistors per chip can make them smaller, faster, more reliable, and more efficient.

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

More transistors on a chip also 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.

Serving clients in more than 175 countries, IBM has been keen to help users capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain competitive edge in their industries.

Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations.