IBM Produce Strained Silicon Processors

IBM recently announced it has developed a new method of manufacturing low power, high performance microprocessors using an industry-first combination of silicon-on-insulator (SOI), strained silicon and copper wiring technologies.

IBM is putting the technique immediately to work in volume 90 nanometer production at its 300mm manufacturing facility.

The company's award-winning 64-bit PowerPC 970FX microprocessor will be the first chip built using this trio of IBM technology breakthroughs.

Early PowerPC 970FX chips produced with the new technology deliver significant power savings, while performing at an equal or higher clock speed than comparable processors. The company expects to realize even greater gains in processor efficiency as it ramps production of the new process technology.

"Our decades-long commitment to pursuing and rapidly implementing technology breakthroughs like SOI and strained silicon is paving the way for a new generation of power savvy chips," said Bernard S. Meyerson, IBM Fellow and chief technologist, IBM Systems and Technology Group. "With this fusion of IBM-pioneered technologies, customers no longer have to sacrifice performance to achieve the power savings they increasingly demand."

Today, chip designers and manufacturers are confronted by conflicting pursuits of increased processing speed and reduced power consumption.

Typically, in order to achieve one of these goals, chip-makers need to sacrifice or significantly impair the other -- trading power consumption for performance (and vice versa).

IBM conquered this challenge by integrating strained silicon and SOI into the same manufacturing process.

This breakthrough speeds the flow of electrons through transistors to increase performance and provide an insulating layer in the silicon that isolates transistors to decrease power consumption.

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