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IBM and Samsung's low-energy chips could see phone batteries last a week

IBM and Samsung's low-energy c...
IBM and Samsung have developed a new chip architecture that could allow smartphones to run for a week or more without recharging
IBM and Samsung have developed a new chip architecture that could allow smartphones to run for a week or more without recharging
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IBM and Samsung have developed a new chip architecture that could allow smartphones to run for a week or more without recharging
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IBM and Samsung have developed a new chip architecture that could allow smartphones to run for a week or more without recharging

IBM and Samsung have unveiled a new semiconductor chip design they say can enable the continuation of Moore's Law. The breakthrough architecture sees transistors built onto the chip in a way that allows for vertical current flows, resulting in a more densely packed device and paving the way for smartphones that run for weeks on a charge, among some other interesting possibilities.

Back in May, IBM revealed semiconductor chips with the smallest transistors ever made, measuring just 2 nanometers (nm) wide apiece, narrower than a strand of DNA. This allowed a whopping 50 billion transistors to be built onto a chip the size of a fingernail, greatly boosting performance and efficiency to offer a 75 percent reduction in energy use compared to industry standard chips with 7-nm transistors.

Traditional semiconductors feature transistors laid flat on their surface, carrying the electric flow in a lateral fashion, from side to side. The new architecture developed by IBM and Samsung, called Vertical Transport Field Effect Transistors (VTFET), sees the transistors built onto the chip in a perpendicular fashion, which allows the current to flow up and down instead.

According to IBM, this new vertical architecture allows yet more transistors to be packed into the space, while also influencing the contact points between them to boost the current flow and save on energy. The company says the design has the potential to double the performance of today's solutions, or offer an 85 percent reduction in energy use.

IBM has produced test chips bearing this new VTFET architecture, and imagine it playing a game-changing role in a number of areas. As the Internet of Things continues to take hold these chips could allow devices such as ocean buoys and autonomous vehicles to run on less energy, and it could have similar effects on energy-intensive computing processes such as cryptocurrency mining, lowering its notorious carbon footprint. It could also allow for more efficient spacecraft and, according to IBM, see smartphone batteries last for over a week without needing a recharge.

"Today's technology announcement is about challenging convention and rethinking how we continue to advance society and deliver new innovations that improve life, business and reduce our environmental impact," Dr. Mukesh Khare, Vice President, Hybrid Cloud and Systems, IBM Research. "Given the constraints the industry is currently facing along multiple fronts, IBM and Samsung are demonstrating our commitment to joint innovation in semiconductor design and a shared pursuit of what we call 'hard tech.'"

The video below provides an overview of the breakthrough.

IBM and Samsung Unveil Semiconductor Breakthrough That Defies Conventional Design

Source: IBM

6 comments
6 comments
TomLeeM
I think that is really cool. I look forward to a phone that will last a week.
CAVUMark
Regarding IoT, if Log4j has anything to say about this we will be back to paying with cash and passbooks for your banking account. Next question when signing up for an online account will be, "do you have Apache servers"?
paul314
It will be interesting to see how much gets invested in producing the "twice the performance for the same power" versions versus the "same performance for a quarter the power" ones. Or perhaps designers will go directly to "three times the performance for twice the energy".

Chip fabs to implement this will be spendy, since vertical means lots more layers.
Rick O
Good to see improvement. I'm not holding my breath on a week long battery life. I suspect improved speeds, similar power usage. Also, displays tend to use the most power in a device. Unless they make a huge improvement there, I expect more of the same. Just faster. Which is good, lol
noteugene
Why is it that these miraculous breakthroughs in chips and batteries never seem to materialize? I'll wait till I see the results before believing. Thank you.
noteugene
And why did Atlas not give us a time frame about when these chips will enter production? Discovery 6 months ago, so who's producing?