IBM announced that it had taken a massive step forward in chip technology by creating the first 2nm chip in the world. The company stated that it had squeezed 50 billion transistors onto a chip the size of a person's fingernail.

IBM 2nm Processor

The architecture can help processor makers deliver a 45% performance boost with the same amount of power as the current 7nm-based chips, or the same level of performance using 75% less energy, according to IBM.

A lot of 2nm-based processors will likely deliver something in between, which is a balance of better performance and improved power efficiency.

Mobile devices with 2nm-based processors could have up to four times the battery life of ones with 7nm chipsets. IBM stated that users might only need to charge those handsets every four days.

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Laptops would get a speed boost from such processors, while autonomous vehicles will detect and react to objects faster, IBM added.

The company claims that the tech will benefit the likes of data center power efficiency, space exploration, artificial intelligence, 5G, and 6G, and quantum computing.

IBM has made the 2nm breakthrough before its competitors. Apple's M1 and A14 arrived together with Huawei's Kirin 9000 last year as the first processors based on TSMC's 5nm technology node process.

Other manufacturers, such as AMD and Qualcomm, are typically using TSMC's 7nm chips right now, but Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 is manufactured on Samsung's 5nm tech.

Intel, IBM's biggest competitor, is unlikely to release 7nm processors until 2023. The company is currently using 10nm and 14nm chips.

However, Intel's chips tend to have greater transistor density than its rivals that have the same nm figure, so it can't be compared to each other.

TSMC is also working on a 2nm process and expects to go into volume production of 4nm and 3nm in 2022.

It is still not clear when 2nm processors will make their way into consumer devices, but announcing 2nm chips and building them at scale are different challenges.

IBM plans to launch its first commercial 7nm processors within this year in its Power Systems servers. Even though 2nm processors are probably a few years away from coming to laptops and phones, it is still good to know that a powerful, energy-efficient CPU is about to be distributed to different sectors.

What Do 7NM Processor Mean for CPUs?

CPUs are made using billions of transistors, electrical gates that switch on and off to perform specific calculations. They take power to do this, and the smaller the transistor, the less power is needed, according to How to Geek.

The 7nm is the measurement of the size of the transistor, with "nm" being nanometers. It is a useful metric for judging how powerful a particular CPU is.

The 7nm is referred to TSMC's process, which is what Apple's A12X chip and AMD's new CPUs are based on.

CPUs are made using photolithography, where an image of the CPU is etched onto a piece of silicon. The exact method of how this is done is usually referred to as the process node and it is measured by how small the manufacturer can make the transistors.

Since smaller transistors are more power and energy efficient, they can do more calculations without heating up. It also allows for smaller die sizes, which reduces costs and can increase density at the same size, this means that there are more cores per chip.

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Written by Sophie Webster

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