Now if they can just solve the “no two alike” issue

The elves at IBM have once again come up with a chip-making technique that promises to forestall the oft-predicted end for Moore’s Law. The “airgap” technology, announced today, produces chips with much improved circuit insulation via a process that mimics the way snowflakes are formed.

As chips have gotten smaller and denser, the challenge of preventing internal power leakage and the resulting heat has gotten larger. For years, chip makers have used materials like silicon dioxide to insulate the microscopic wiring. But even better insulation can be achieved by creating a vacuum around the wires. The IBM engineers came up with a polymer-based material that assembles itself into a pattern of evenly spaced, 20-nanometer dots that can then be etched away, leaving trillions of tiny holes that are then capped to form a vacuum. “People have been trying to figure out how to do this for years and IBM did it,” said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64. Bottom line: Over the next few years, the process will produce chips that are substantially faster, cooler and smaller, probably in IBM servers first, and then who knows where.


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    Thank goodness this obvious development can’t be patented!

  • J.F.

    Is your comment a way of asking why GMSV has overlooked reporting on the recent Supreme Court decision on “obvious” patents.
    A Supreme Court decison related to patent law is so much more trivial than the latest news on “Second Life” (to paraphrase “…get… a life!”)


    P.S. Given IBM’s track record on obtaining patents (and as an ex-IBMer), I would be surprised if this development had not been accompanied by a flurry of patent application filings.