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IBM Develops Worlds First 2 Nanometer Chip Technology

A 2 nm wafer fabricated at IBM Research’s Albany facility. The wafer contains hundreds of individual chips. Courtesy of IBM

IBM today announced the development of the world’s first chip with 2 nanometer (nm) nanosheet technology. Demand for increased chip performance and energy efficiency continues to rise, especially in the era of hybrid cloud, AI, and the Internet of Things. IBM’s new 2 nm chip technology helps advance the state-of-the-art in the semiconductor industry, addressing this growing demand. It is projected to achieve 45 percent higher performance, or 75 percent lower energy use, than today’s most advanced 7 nm node chips.

Increasing the number of transistors per chip can make them smaller, faster, more reliable, and more efficient. The 2 nm design demonstrates the advanced scaling of semiconductors using IBM’s nanosheet technology. Its architecture is an industry first. 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.

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A close-up of a 2 nm wafer fabricated at IBM Research’s Albany facility, with individual chips visible to the naked eye. Courtesy of IBM.

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. IBM’s first commercialized offering including IBM Research 7 nm advancements will debut later this year in IBM POWER10-based IBM Power Systems.

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IBM Research’s Albany facility located at the Albany Nanotech Complex. IBM has created a world leading semiconductor research ecosystem responsible for many industry firsts including 7 nm, 5nm, and now, 2 nm transistor technology. Courtesy of IBM.

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, drastically speeding up a laptop’s functions, ranging from quicker processing in applications, to assisting in language translation more easily, to faster internet access. Contributing to faster object detection and reaction time in autonomous vehicles like self-driving cars.

2 nm technology as seen using transmission electron microscopy. 2 nm is smaller than the width of a single strand of human DNA. Courtesy of IBM.