IBM's new chips have only been made in labs so far / IBM

Breakthrough made with alliance with other computing organisations, after some worried that pace of technological innovation could massively slow

IBM has developed new technology that has allowed them to make computer chips as small as a blood cell.

The development could lead modern computers to be shrunk down to tiny sizes, as well as the production of nanocomputers that could allow for entirely new uses of technology. It has finally undone worries that the pace of progress in technology could dramatically slow, because it seemed that there was to be little progress in further shrinking the semiconductors that power computers.

The smallest of the new chips are about 7-nanometres wide. The smallest parts on current chips are twice that.

Previously many have assumed that the pace of technological change will be driven by Moore’s Law – the idea, coined by chip pioneer Gordon Moore, that computer power should double about every two years.

But in recent years “In recent years, the chip industry has struggled to sustain a torrid pace of semiconductor innovation”, wrote Mukesh Khare, a VP of IBM Semiconductor Technology Research. “Each wave of miniaturization has come only through near-superhuman feats of creativity by scientists and engineers,” he wrote in a post announcing the new discovery.

 

The new chips are the result of dozens of developments in the materials, tools and techniques used to make them, Khare wrote. Those new discoveries were made by an alliance led by IBM and including universities and other companies.

The tiniest chips have only been made in the lab so far. But IBM says that it is working on ways to make them in factories, which will be necessary to make them on a mass scale.

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