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IBM and Samsung Promise Chip Breakthrough With Vertical Transistors

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With a new chip design, Samsung and IBM claim that their chips will be a lot more efficient and more energy-efficient in the future.


Chips consist of billions of transistors. The performance of such a chip usually depends on how many transistors fit on one chip, and in recent decades this has mainly been done by making those transistors smaller.

IBM and Samsung are now coming up with a new design in which a transistor is placed vertically on a chip. Vertical Transport Field Effect Transistors (VTFET) design promises twice the performance and 85 percent less power. Therefore, it is a successor to finFET, the current way of placing transistors on a chip.

According to both companies, this means, among other things, that a smartphone could last for a week instead of days or that IoT hardware becomes much more powerful or can function longer on the same battery.

Despite massive shortages, chip developers continue to work hard on ways to increase performance. For example, Intel is looking closely at stacking layers of transistors to get more on one chip.

Today IBM already has test chips ready, and the project can be scaled further. However, we must add that there are still a lot of steps in between before the technology can lead to a commercial mass product. Promises about battery performance can always be interpreted with some nuance.

Often applications or associated hardware also evolve over time so that more options partly absorb the performance or energy gain on a chip.

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