How do you boost the performance of a chip by a factor of 1,000?
The answer is a lot simpler than you might imagine. The answer, in fact, is glue.
Yes, apparently IBM and 3M have come up with a solution to creating
a superfast chip by placing 100s of chips, one on top of another, and all held
together by glue.
Of course this is no ordinary adhesive, but one which can efficiently
conduct heat through a densely-packed stack of chips and away from
heat-sensitive components such as logic circuits.
“3M and IBM today announced that the two companies plan to
jointly develop the first adhesives that can be used to package semiconductors
into densely stacked silicon towers,” a statement from the companies said.
“Today’s chips, including those containing ‘3D’ transistors,
are in fact 2D chips that are still very flat structures,” said Bernard
Meyerson, VP of Research, IBM. “Our scientists are aiming to develop materials
that will allow us to package tremendous amounts of computing power into a new
form factor – a silicon ‘skyscraper.’”
The 3D transistors Meyerson speaks of are the 3D tri-gate
transistors being developed by Intel which it hopes will boost its presence in the mobile market, and
which are due to be seen first in next year’s Ivy Bridge processors.
IBM and 3M are hoping that its stacking process will allow
for dramatically higher levels of integration for information technology and
consumer electronics applications.
Processors could be tightly packed with memory and
networking, for example, into a “brick” of silicon that would create a computer
chip 1,000 times faster than today’s fastest microprocessor enabling more
powerful smartphones, tablets, computers and gaming devices.
This new technology should be going into production by the
end of 2013 according to IBM and will make an appearance in servers first
before trickling down to consumer devices – and we can’t wait.