IBM says it has achieved a breakthrough in making computer chips even smaller, creating a test version of the world's first semiconductor that shrinks down the circuitry by overcoming "one of the grand challenges" of the tech industry. Today's servers are powered by microprocessors that use 22-nanometer or 14-nanometer node chips. IBM, working with development partners at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, says it's figured out how to create 7-nanometer chips. To get to the width of a human hair, you'd need roughly 10,000 of them. A strand of human DNA, in comparison, is 2.5 nanometers. Despite the size, the chip has four times the capacity of today's best microchips, reports the New York Times.
The chip is still in development and IBM did not say when it expects to put it on the market. One big hurdle: IBM will have to figure out how to manufacture large numbers of the chips cheaply. The development comes as companies are racing to create smaller, more powerful chips to perform the increasingly complex task that our wired lives demand. At the same time that computer chips have grown more powerful, though, they have also gotten smaller, to the point where you can now hold in your hand a computer many times more powerful than computers that used to fill a room.