IBM’s 7nm wide chips may have saved Moore’s Law (for now)

Shane McGlaun - Jul 9, 2015, 7:30am CDT
IBM’s 7nm wide chips may have saved Moore’s Law (for now)

Moore’s Law is something cooked up by Gordon Moore in a paper long ago. Moore would eventually go on to found Intel and the law states that computing power will double every two years. In the years since Moore came up with his law, it has held true but some scientists and researchers believe we are nearing the end of life for Moore’s Law as we begin to reach limits on how small we can make chips.

IBM has seemingly extended the life of Moore’s Law by announced a new breakthrough in chip design. IBM says that it is able to produce chips that are only 7nm wide. For an idea just how small that is, it is about the width of a few strands of DNA.

Chips this small have been attempted in the past and have never worked due to excessive power demands or an inability to conduct electricity efficiently. The process that IBM has pioneered uses a material called Silicon Germanium, which is an alloy that IBM has been working with since 1989.

This Silicon Germanium is uses to process the transistors along with a new method of etching the chip dubbed extreme ultraviolet lithography. IBM says that these new processes result in a very small chip that could lead to a 50% performance and power boost over chips available on the market today. IBM has noted that its work to make this new chip “…clarifies that staying on Moore’s Law is extremely difficult.” IBM researchers plan to work on 5nm scale in the future.


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