Most computer chip drivers today use 10nm or 7nm process technology, with some manufacturers producing 5nm chips, as lower numbers refer to smaller, more advanced processors.
The new IBM chip uses 2nm process technology, which represents a huge leap forward for the components used to power everything from smartphones and consumer devices to supercomputers and transportation equipment.
“There aren’t many technologies or technological breakthroughs that cover all needs, but this is an example of one of them,” said Dario Gil, director of IBM Research, in an interview.
The way to improve chip performance is to increase the number of transistors – the basic elements that process data – without increasing its overall size. The new chip is 2 nanometers in size, roughly the size of a fingernail, and contains 50 billion transistors, each the size of two strands of DNA, according to IBM Vice President for Hybrid Cloud Research, Mukesh Kher.
More transistors will also allow for more innovations related to artificial intelligence and coding.
“When we see that the phones experience has improved, the cars have improved, the computers have improved, because behind the scenes, the transistor becomes better and we have more transistors available in our chips,” said Gill.
The new chip is expected to achieve 45% higher performance and reduce energy consumption by 75%, compared to today’s most advanced 7nm chipset. With 2nm chips, cell phone batteries can last 4 times longer, laptops can speed up significantly, and data centers’ carbon footprints can also be reduced because they rely on more energy-efficient chips.
Slides with a size of 2 nanometers are expected to enter production from late 2024 or 2025, meaning that they will not be available soon in light of the scarcity of chips that the world is witnessing.
And unlike Intel and Samsung, IBM does not manufacture chips on a large scale, but will instead license the 2nm processor technology to the chip makers.