Betting big on chip technology, IBM has announced plans to invest $3 billion over the next five years in two research and early stage development programs. In short, IBM says it wants to push the limits of semiconductor innovation to meet next generation demands of cloud computing and Big Data systems.
Big Blue’s first research program targets “7 nanometer and beyond” silicon technology. The goal there is to address the serious physical challenges faced by today's semiconductor scaling techniques.
A separate project will focus on developing alternative tech for post-silicon era chips, with solutions that can overcome the physical limitations of today's silicon.
"The question is not if we will introduce 7 nanometer technology into manufacturing, but rather how, when, and at what cost?" said John Kelly, Senior Vice President at IBM Research. Kelly said that IBM engineers, scientists, and partners are already working on the materials science and device engineering required to meet the growing demands of cloud computing, Big Data, and cognitive systems.
IBM hopes that its plans to invest $3 billion will ensure that the company can produce the necessary innovations to meet the demands of these computationally intensive systems.
A Terrific Challenge
Explaining its strategy in further detail, IBM addressed how cloud computing and Big Data applications are creating new challenges that today's chip technology isn't sufficient to handle. Bandwidth to memory, high-speed communication, and device power consumption are getting more challenging -- and more critical -- all the time.
To its advantage, IBM already holds more than 500 patents for technologies that will drive advancements at 7nm and beyond silicon. According to Big Blue’s count, that’s more than twice the nearest competitor. The company is certain that investing more to drive faster invention and product development on this front will differentiate its computing systems for cloud computing and Big Data analytics. At least one analyst agrees.
"Scaling to 7nm and below is a terrific challenge, calling for deep physics competencies in processing nano materials affinities and characteristics,” said Richard Doherty, Technology Research director at The Envisioneering Group. “IBM is one of a very few companies that has repeatedly demonstrated this level of science and engineering expertise.”
The Next 10 Years
Beyond new materials, new architectures, and innovative device concepts, IBM has identified power dissipation as a fundamental challenge for nanoelectronic circuits.
Big Blue explains the challenge this way: Think of a leaky water faucet -- even after closing the valve as far as possible, water continues to drip. That, the company said, is similar to the modern transistor in that energy is constantly "leaking" or being lost or wasted in the off-state. (continued...)
Posted: 2014-07-11 @ 7:58am PT
Milton. Please check annals of computer history and see that Univac I was delivered in 1951.
Posted: 2014-07-10 @ 8:27pm PT
Back in the late 50s, IBM developed the first commercially based computer system... the 1401. This new investment will produce the same lead on the competition.