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The recent shortage of processors at the hands of an unexpected global pandemic has made us more aware of their importance in the world of consumer goods, transport, and much more. Many of us take those tiny semiconductors for granted, but being so key, developers and manufacturers have had their attention on producing the most effective chip they can. How effective one boils down to a balance of performance and power requirements. IBM has just unveiled its latest processing chip and it is the first of its kind worldwide. They gave a brief overview of the technology it has adopted and the potential for its use within our future smartphones, laptops, and other cutting-edge gadgets.

IBM Chip
Image credit: IBM

The new technology allows them to design a much more compact chip allowing for extra space. Most of the items we power utilize a 7nm chip, the big difference with IBM’s new 2nm chip comes in the form of lashing of additional transistors. What it means is that the chips built using that process can potentially offer big gains in performance and battery life. As to the IBM, its 2nm chips are “projected to achieve 45 percent higher performance, or 75 percent lower energy use, than today’s most advanced 7 nm node chips.

If you’re a fan of figures, it features about 333 million per square millimeter (MTr/mm2) according to AnandTech. For comparison, Chaim Gartenberg at The Verge says that TSMC’s most advanced 5nm processing chips harbor roughly 173 MTr/mm2 and Samsung’s 5nm chips have even less with around 127 MTr/mm2.

While the numbers don’t mean much to the average person we can assume more is better I guess? But, it is important to remember that this is just an early working model built as a proof of concept rather than for installation and use. Fitting a 2nm node into a processor is likely still a long way off.

As we said the majority of manufacturers use a 7nm for their high-performance items, with TSMC and Samsung ever so slightly ahead, currently producing 5nm chips. Intel, one of the biggest names in processors, still hasn’t rolled its 7nm out to the masses yet. As to AnandTech, even TSMC doesn’t expect to get to 2nm for a while: it’s curren plans are to start early production of its 4nm chip process by the end of the year, with mass production in 2022. They have high hopes to get their 3nm node out before the end of 2022 and have 2nm chip plans still in relatively early development. So the arrival of these tiny but mighty chips won’t be on the cards anytime soon. And like we said, manufacturing hiccups and delays could mean a longer wait altogether. It isn’t as though Intel hasn’t suffered in the past.

When all is said and done, no matter the wait, the future of semiconductor tech looks promising. IBM’s announcement has developers excited and we as consumers should be too. Of course, there are still plenty of kinks to work around before we get to the mass-production stage but these new chips boast 45% better performance and 75% less energy consumption; And that can’t be overlooked.

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