When we say chips, what comes to your mind? For some, it could mean potato chips (of which, is yum!). For tech enthusiasts, they might think of computer chips. Either is right, but we’re focusing on the latter for now.
In 2015, microprocessor chips that were made with 14nm process was introduced. This type of chip was found in the well known Intel’s Core M processors, along with Samsung’s Exynos 7420. What the 14nm means that those chips feature node transistors that are 14 nanometers in size. This 14nm chip will hold more transistors that are much more closer to each other in size. What this means is that the capacitance will be lowered and thus, increases the overall efficiency. If you compare a 22nm chip of the same size, 14nm chips win in performance.
Now, IBM’s US$3 billion (MYR13 billion) investment in the past for R&D purposes has bear their fruits. The R&D was indeed to develop a sub-10nm chip. Just recently, they have announced a working sample of chips that are built on just 7nm process! This is a vast improvement as compared to the 14nm process. For science geeks, this 7nm is proving the existance of Moore’s Law and is pushing its boundaries.
The samples have transistors that are just 7nm in size – of which is 0.000000001m in thickness – all man-made! This 7nm chip has indeed broken the process of 10nm chips that had many issues and problems. This is because they’ve been made using silicon-germanium (SiGe) channel material, instead of the pure silicon that many use in chips generally. Many like Intel and TSMC had been working on 10nm chips, but they’ve encountered many problems due the the size. TSMC, however, will be providing the 10nm chips as early as 2016.
Although the working samples are released, IBM said that we probably won’t be seeing this new technology in future devices just yet. At least, not in the near future. They mentioned that these chips are made in research labs and not the production line. Thus, we will need to wait a little longer for the new 7nm chips to be incorporated with the gadgets. IBM mentioned they’re looking for the release in 2017 or 2018.