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Thursday, 10 July 2014 09:34

Big Blue wants back into the chip market

Written by Nick Farrell

Fabless

After saying it wanted to get out of hardware, IBM today announced it is investing $3 billion over the next five years into creating new chip technology. It would appear that what Big Blue has in mind is to run its chip making operations as a fabless arrangement with other partners.

The outfit has two broad research and early stage development programs which it says will to push the limits of chip technology needed to meet the emerging demands of cloud computing and Big Data systems. These investments will push IBM's semiconductor innovations from today's breakthroughs into the advanced technology leadership required for the future.

One programme is called “7 nanometer and beyond" and will tackle the serious physical challenges that are threatening current semiconductor scaling techniques. The second is focused on developing alternative technologies for post-silicon era chips using entirely different approaches, which IBM scientists and other experts say are required because of the physical limitations of silicon based semiconductors.

IBM thinks that Cloud and big data applications are placing new challenges on systems, just as the underlying chip technology is facing numerous significant physical scaling limits. There are all sorts of headaches which are not being dealt with including bandwidth problems, memory issues, high speed communication and device power consumption. The teams will comprise IBM Research scientists and engineers from Albany and Yorktown, New York; Almaden, California; and Europe.

IBM will be investing significantly in emerging areas of research that are already underway at IBM such as carbon nanoelectronics, silicon photonics, new memory technologies, and architectures that support quantum and cognitive computing.

Nick Farrell

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