International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has achieved a breakthrough in developing a microprocessor using 7-nanometer process. The company has successfully reduced the transistors to 7 nm level. It improves the efficiency of the chip. Reducing the current leakages and running the chips at faster clock speeds help to save power consumption.
This breakthrough allows the companies to develop things such as mainframes with enhanced performance and lower power requirement and contact lenses with inbuilt cameras. The company has utilized the EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography) in developing the new chip.
The use of EUV and existing lithography techniques are more challenging. The work on EUV started back in 1997 with the involvement of national labs and a group of companies with an aim to embrace to produce the chips around 2000 for commercialization. The commercialization is not that much easy and even it got pushed to 2018. Therefore, the chips developed using EUV may not be available until 2018.
The current chips on the market are developed using a 14 to 15 nm process or even bigger. Therefore, the chips developed using 7 nm process allows the designers to develop very small and innovative products.
IBM will invest $3 billion on R&D in the next 5 years to commercialize the technology along with its partners including Samsung and GlobalFoundries.
Is the EUV Ready for Prime Time?
According to the principal analyst, Nathan Brookwood, at Insight 64, EUV is not ready for the Prime Time. The production using EUV is delayed year on year. Despite all the odds in the development, it offers rich dividends for the industry.
In the development, the researchers are continuously making mistakes and further delaying the commercialization. Lithography is one of the biggest challenges for the chipmakers and the industry as a whole.
It is worthwhile to adopt existing technologies. Imprint lithography and X-Ray lithography are also in the same state. It is also expensive.
According to Stephen Shankland, one needs to spend around $10 billion to establish the fabrication process using 7 nm.
The advancements of IBM are commendable. Now, the future seems to be bright for the EUV. One can expect products developed using the EUV in the near future.