IBM Ten Breakthrough in Chip Technology

IBM recent breakthrough technology “airgap” which is a major breakthrough in chip designs has made it a pioneer in chip making field. I was going through more and came along with with 10 inventions made in 10 years giving the the IT industry with new materials and design architectures to build most efficient and powerful chip of the time. Transforming from aluminum wire to copper and defying Moore’s law with “airgap” technology IBM just rocks. Lets take a look at the inventions made and brief about it.

IBM’s Inventions in brief :

  1. Copper (September 1997) – Before copper came int picture, aluminum was being used in chip designs. One of the major problem with aluminum is poor conductor of electricity when its very thing. This was major problem as the chips shrink even further. Copper on the other hand was good at microlevel but it didn’t mix with silicon well. IBM found a way to build a barrier so it does not have any problem with silicon and its industry standard now.
  2. SOI (August 1998) – Silicon on Insulator technology made chips insulated from heat generated by nearby chips. This helped in increased performance and reduces power consumption. This helped the battery life to be increased indirectly for portable devices.
  3. Strained Silicon(June 2001) – When silicon is spread over a substrate ( base material) it mixes in it at the atom level similar when you drop sugar into curd. This makes the silicon to spread which in turn results in lesser resistance and speeding the flow of electrons and less power consumption again.
  4. Dual-Core Microprocessors (October 2001) – IMB was the be first giving the dual core technology POWER4, the world’s first dual-core microprocessor.
  5. Immersion Lithography (December 2004) – IA method to build chips with ever smaller features. This is more commonly called as immersion lithography, silicon wafers are immersed in purified water. Laser light shining through an intricate mask throws a microscopic shadow pattern onto the wafer, which then becomes permanent through chemical processes similar to the process in which a negative becomes a photographic print. As water bends light better than air sharper resolution and smaller patterns works better.
  6. Frozen SiGe Chip (June 2006) – IBM used Silicon Germanium to replace more expensive and exotic materials which in turn leads to smaller, faster and lower cost chips, The power of this chip is it can operate at frequencies above 500GHz, by freezing the chip to near absolute zero.
  7. High-k (January 2007) – Current leakage is common problem when it comes to circuits and electrical equipment. IBM invented a unique solution called as “high-k metal gates” They substituted a new material into the transistor that controls its primary on/off switching function. This allowed them to avoid leakage and further shrinking the chip
  8. eDRAM (February 2007) – Before DRAM or Dynamic RAM came SRAM or static ram was used. The only problem with SRAM was its slow. Now IBM came with something called as eDram which allowed them to triple the amount of embedded memory. Now you know why 1GB Ram and 128MB Ram looks same in size.
  9. 3-D Chip Stacking (April 2007) – Traditionally Chips are packed side by side. on a silicon wafer.This makes the packing bigger. Instead of doing that IBM came packed then on top of each other. The result is a compact sandwich of components and it not only reduced the packing size but boosts the performance
  10. Airgap(May 2007) – I wrote a complete post fe days back . Read on IBM breakthrough in chip technology : Airgaps

Fore the complete details read on Made in IBM Labs: 10 Chip Breakthroughs in 10 Years

I tried to simplify to my best. The Article leads to much technical stuff which needs understanding of chip technology. I understood to good extent as my root were a bit in hardware but to be honest Its tough. I hope you understood, if not I open to discussions…Shoot me an email or a comment I will get back to you .


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