IBM has disclosed what it says are the world’s first 2nm process chips, providing a brief preview of the technology that could eventually power the smartphones, laptops and gadgets of the future.
The big jump here is in the number of transistors. Compared to current 7nm chips, the new IBM technology contains significantly more transistors, thanks to its more compact design. That means chips built with that process have the potential to offer huge benefits in performance and battery life: IBM says the 2nm chips are “expected to achieve 45 percent higher performance or 75 percent lower power consumption than the most advanced 7nm node. chips from today. “
According to AnandTech, IBM’s new 2nm chip has approximately 333 million transistors per square millimeter (MTr / mm2). In comparison, TSMC’s most advanced chips, built on the 5nm process, contain approximately 173 million transistors per square millimeter (MTr / mm2), while Samsung’s 5nm chips have about 127 MTr / mm2.
While that all sounds great, it’s important to remember that IBM’s 2nm chip is largely just a proof of concept, and processors built on the 2nm node are likely years away.
TSMC and Samsung are currently producing 5nm chips. Intel is still struggling to get its 7nm node out the door. And even TSMC doesn’t expect to reach 2nm in the near future: it currently plans to begin early production of its 4nm chip process by the end of the year, with mass production in 2022, per AnandTech. Its 3nm node isn’t expected until the second half of 2022, with 2nm chips still in relatively early development. And all of that assumes that semiconductor companies won’t face delays – just ask Intel, which has seen some manufacturing troubles over the past decade.
Still, it’s a tantalizing glimpse into the future of semiconductor technology, and while it may take time to achieve this on a mass-production scale, IBM’s announcement shows there’s still plenty to rave about when it comes to new chips.