IBM, Samsung and GLOBALFOUNDRIES have come together to create an all new processor that packs 30 million transistors into a wafer the size of a fingernail. The developers say the resulting increase in performance will help accelerate cognitive computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other data-intensive applications delivered in the cloud. And power savings could see batteries in smartphones and other mobile products could last two to three times longer than today.
The silicon nanosheet transistor demonstration, which was detailed in a research paper, proves that 5nm chips are possible, more powerful, and not too far off. This is a further development of a 7nm chip that allowed 20 million transistors to be packed into a similarly sized package.
The fastest processors in Intel’s family, the Kaby Lake powerplants (that will be in the new iMac Pro) currently employ a 14nm architecture, suggesting there are still some legs left in Moore’s law.
While it might be some time before this processor makes it to our devices, it’s good to see that the kind of performance we expect from larger systems is being made small enough to carry in our pockets and be deployed in devices that might not have been able to house a powerful processor. As well as raw speed, such a processor could make it feasible to embed stronger security controls and other functions in IoT devices.