IBM cracks out world's first 7nm chip

Commercially available in two years

IBM Graphene Chip

IBM is even closer to bringing the world's first 7nm chip into the commercial market after it unveiled its first working chip using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

First reported by Ars Technica, the new chip was built by IBM in conjunction with GlobalFoundries, Samsung, SUNY (State University of New York) and various other equipment suppliers. The hope is that it will bring huge advances in power, performance and size.

The 7nm test chip itself was built at the IBM/SUNY (State University of New York) Polytechnic 300mm research facility in Albany, NY.

Transistors are of the FinFET flavor except that they possess one difference compared to regular FinFETs: the transistor channel is silicon-germanium (SIGe) alloy as opposed to just silicon.

Stack it tight

Exceedingly tight stacking is allowing IBM to claim a surface area reduction of almost 50% compared to current 10nm processes and the group behind the chip want to hit "at least a 50 percent power/performance improvement for the next generation of systems".

It's expected that the first commercially available EUV manufactured chips will arrive at some point in the 2017-2018 time period and it goes to show that the $3 billion (around £1.75 billion, or AU$3.2 billion) IBM pledged to invest in research and development over the next five years is working.

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