Computing With Unrivaled Performance

Computing With Unrivaled Performance

Jun 10, 2021
|
41 views
Details
We are in Albany, New York at the most advanced collaborative semiconductor research facility in the world. This kind of facility is the product of billions of dollars of investment and over 20 years of dedicated work. It has been built on a highly successful public-private model designed to support an ecosystem of world-leading semiconductor suppliers and manufacturers. It is where IBM researchers have done some globally altering scientific and technological breakthroughs in nanotech and semiconductor research. You probably have heard about the field of nanotechnology. The field of lithography is a bit more obscure, but it is at the heart of why computing gets better and cheaper decade after decade. Let's start with how chips are made. It may not be immediately obvious, but transistors, the basic unit of computation on a wafer is printed. Wafers are sought out of cylinders of pure crystalline silicon then polished to mirror-like finish. With lithography, we are able to print and ultimately etch billions of transistors onto a wafer with atomic precision. A high energy laser fires on a microscopic droplet of molten tin and turns it into plasma, emitting extreme ultraviolet light, which then is focused into a beam. We reflect the beam of a masked pattern that contains the complex design of the circuitry of the chip we want to print. That pattern of light is then shrunk through an array of atomically precise reflective mirrors, finally casting onto the silicon wafer at a microscopic level. This light exposure burns the pattern into the photo resist, and after it is developed, it forms a relief pattern that can be used to etch the desired structures into the silicon. The wafer gets processed subsequently and cleaned to remove the resist. This process gets repeated layer after layer as many as 100 times, and over days and weeks, we get to ultimately create a fully functioning chip with transistor dimensions at a nanometer level. We use lithography technology to build a basic device for computation called transistors. Working together with our talented research team and many partners, we have pioneered a new transistor structure. We at IBM call this nano sheet, which has become the foundation for every chip manufacturer's future chip generation. The nano sheet structure is formed by vertically stacking multiple layers of silicon sheet channels, around five nanometers in thickness, which is about two DNA molecules. In 2015, we were the first to create the world's first seven nanometer test chip. A few years later in 2017, we did it again, creating the five manometer test chip where we first introduced the nano sheet technology to the world. And now in 2021 we've done it again, creating the world's first two nanometers node chip. There are almost 10 times more transistors on this wafer than the number of trees in the entire world. Getting to this two nanometer framework will equate to 45% performance improvement over today's seven nanometer chips using the same amount of power, or a 75% power savings at the same performance level. These continued technology advances ensure an enduring platform for both our own hardware and systems, but also the entire technology ecosystem. While the commercial availability of two nanometers processors is still several years away, the IBM Research innovation pipeline gets directly commercialized through our hardware platforms. In fact, IBM's first commercialized seven nanometer processor based on our 2015, innovation will appear later this year in IBM POWER10 base systems. Our work here underscores the importance of advancing semiconductor chip design and performance across all modern computing architectures, and investing in this innovations is also critical for our partners such us Intel and Samsung. It is also vital to the secure chip supply chains of industry, from IT to car makers and to the success and security of our nations. Our two nanometer breakthrough will create advanced nodes that give hardware designers a more powerful canvas to create specialized tech. Two nanometers is now the foundation for researchers to explore the future of hardware, including AI hardware that can drive greater performance across everything we do.

Comments
loading...