For years, the tech industry has been seeking hardware that’s smaller, faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient, constantly driving microchip innovation forward. Now, IBM has achieved another important milestone in this audacious technological endeavor by announcing that it has created a 2-nanometer chip — the world’s smallest and most powerful yet.
When it comes to computer chips, the smaller they are, the greater their power capacity. Currently, most computer chips use either 10-nanometer or 7-nanometer process technology, meaning that IBM’s 2-nanometer chip is a huge leap forward for these components that are used to power everything from smartwatches to televisions to supercomputers.
“There are not many technologies or technological breakthroughs that end up, lifting all boats,” said Dario Gil, director of IBM Research. “This is an example of one.”
Improving a chip’s performance requires increasing the number of transistors — the core components that process data — without enlarging the thing itself. IBM reports that the new 2-nanometer chips fit 50 billion transistors in a space roughly the size of a fingernail. This large count of transistors will enable more innovations related to AI and encryption, among other things, to be added directly onto the chips.
On top of that, the biggest benefits include a 45 percent increase in performance, and about 75 percent lower energy use, from today’s 7-nanometer chips. Running on 2-nanometer chips, cell phone batteries are expected to last four times longer, laptops could get significantly faster, and the carbon footprint of data centers could be slashed thanks to higher energy efficiency.