IBM’s New 7 Nanometer Chip To Uphold Moore’s Law

IBM 7nm transistor chip

If you haven’t heard of Moore’s law, in short, in 1965, Gordon Moore of Intel observed that possible transistors per square inch of a processing unit doubled ever year, and that this trend would continue indefinitely, he later revised his theory from doubling every year to a doubling every two years. Since 1965, the “law” (not actually a scientific law) has been upheld and is used by chip-set companies to create research and manufacturing goals.

At the end of 2014 Intel released a 14 nanometer transistor chip, which is known as the Core M, found in the new Apple MacBook, and other small fan-less computers. IBM has announced that they have a functioning 7 nanometer transistor chip. IBM achieved this by using a silicon-germanium hybrid, not a traditional transistor material.

The new material makes possible faster transistor switching and lower power requirements. The tiny size of these transistors suggests further advances will require new materials and new manufacturing techniques.

Naturally other companies have set the goal of 7 nanometer transistors, half the size of Intel’s 14 nanometer, but IBM is the only company which has shown significant promise. Though in order to uphold Moore’s law, we do have until 2017 so IBM is in a very good position to be manufacturing 7 nanometer chips by then.

Moore, made a second observation that as transistors exponentially decreased in  size, the cost of research and manufacturing would increase exponentially as well. This observation coincides with the fundamental question of when Moore’s law will end, because it will. Either when resources to research and produce becomes impossible or we create the smallest transistor possible: a transistor the size an atom. Whether you like it or not, Zeno’s paradox plays no role here as we live in a finite physical world where the atom is our fundamental unit, a unit with a measure of about .4 nanometers.

Philosophy aside, 7 nanometers is mindbogglingly small,

To get to the width of a human hair, you’d need roughly 10,000 of them. A strand of human DNA, in comparison is 2.5 nanometers.

If that doesn’t send a shiver through your spine, I don’t know what will. Let us know your thoughts on Moore’s Law, the future of computing and when you think Moore’s law will inevitably come to and end!

  Via: Boston Globe
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