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IBM, Georgia Tech Set a Speed Record for Chips at 500 GHz

Posted June 20, 2006

— Researchers at

IBM

and Georgia Tech have developed a silicon-based chip capable of operating at 500 billion cycles per second (500 GHz), or 100 times faster that current chips in PCs and 250 times faster than chips in cellular phones.

To reach such speeds, the new silicon-germanium (or SiGe) chip was frozen to 451 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, or near absolute zero.

However, even at room temperature the chip operated at a super-fast 350 GHz.

The chip could possibly reach even higher speeds, or 1,000 GHz, the researchers said.

Georgia Tech and IBM have been seeking to explore what they call "the ultimate speed limits" of SiGe chips.

"For the first time, Georgia Tech and IBM have demonstrated that speeds of half a trillion cycles per second can be achieved in a commercial silicon-based technology, using large wafers and silicon-compatible low-cost manufacturing techniques," said John Cressler, the Byers Professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a researcher in the Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC) at Georgia Tech. "This work redefines the upper bounds of what is possible using silicon-germanium nanotechnology techniques."

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