IBM is investing $3 billion over the next five years in two broad research and early stage development programs to push the limits of chip technology needed to meet the emerging demands of cloud computing and big data systems.
These investments will push IBM's semiconductor innovations from today’s breakthroughs into the advanced technology leadership required for the future.
The first research program, aimed at manufacturing 7-nanometer silicon transistors and smaller, will address physical challenges that are threatening current semiconductor scaling techniques.
IBM researchers and other semiconductor experts predict that while challenging, semiconductors show promise to scale from today's 22 nanometers down to 14 and then 10 nanometers in the next several years.
However, scaling to 7 nanometers - and perhaps below - by the end of the decade will require significant investment and innovation in semiconductor architectures as well as invention of new tools and techniques for manufacturing.
"The question is not if we will introduce 7-nanometer technology into manufacturing, but rather how, when, and at what cost?" said John Kelly, SVP of IBM Research.
The second program is focused on developing alternative technologies for post-silicon era chips using entirely different approaches, which IBM scientists and other experts say are required because of the physical limitations of silicon based semiconductors.