IBM Has World's Coolest Chip

by admin June 20, 2006 at 4:22 am

IBM today announced a breakthrough development in semiconductor performance today. Working with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Cryogenic Lab, IBM said it was able to achieve a blazing 500GHz performance, with one caveat; the chip had to be cooled to near-absolute zero degrees temperatures.

“We realize 4.2 degrees Kelvin is not a practical point of operation for a transistor,” David Ahlgren, an IBM researcher at the company’s Fishkill, N.Y. manufacturing facility, told 4.2 degrees Kelvin translates to ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú452.11 Fahrenheit, just a few degrees shy of absolute zero.

But Ahlgren said the point of the research is to test the limits of how fast they could go. He said IBM actually has run simulations that suggest future versions of the Silicon-Germanium (SiGe) chip could run twice the 500GHz speed, already considered a world record for a Silicon-based processor. There are faster transistors based on non-Silicon materials such as Gallium Arsenide.

Nearer term, Ahlgren said the current test processor can run at a speedy 350GHz at room temperature. In the digital communications market, where SiGe chips are common, cell phone chips typically operate at a “mere” 2GHz.

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