IBM, Georgia Tech chip runs at over 500 GHz

— 10:59 AM on June 20, 2006

Engineers at IBM and the Georgia Institute of Technology have managed to co-develop a silicon chip that runs at speeds over 500 GHz. The catch—the chip needs to be frozen to -268.65°C (-451.57°F), or just 4.5°C up from absolute zero, to operate at such speeds. Nevertheless, the engineers claim their creation is the world's first silicon to hit the 0.5 terahertz landmark. For slightly more practical applications, the chip can still hit a whopping 350 GHz when run at room temperature.

Those breakneck speeds are the result of an experiment meant to explore the possibilities of silicon germanium, a semiconductor alloy that allows both higher speeds and lower power consumption than traditional silicon. Known as SiGe, the alloy is already used in a number of applications today, including Intel and AMD's 65 nm and 90 nm process technologies. EE Times says the research conducted by IBM and Georgia Tech can yield ultra-high speed chips that could make their way into communications and military systems. Additionally, the research can be applied to produce high-speed, low-power chips for cell phones and other embedded devices.

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