IBM has unveiled one of its bigger plans so far. The company will invest three billion investment in chip and new technology. Over the next five years, IBM will invest a significant amount of their total revenue in new technologies like non-silicon computer chips, quantum computing research, and computers that mimic the human brain.
Cloud and Big Data are posing new challenges for the systems, just as chip technology faces many important limits physically. Thus the bandwidth to memory, high-speed communication and power consumption of the devices, are increasingly critical issues. IBM engineers and scientists, along with partners, are well suited for this challenge and are already working on the materials science and device engineering required to meet the demands of the emerging system requirements for cloud, big data, and cognitive systems.
The first goal is to build chips whose electronic components called transistors to measure just 7 nanometers. To get an idea of the size, this is about one thousandth the width of a human hair, a tenth of the width of a virus particle, or width of 16 potassium atoms next to each other.
The second objective is to choose from a range of radical departures from the silicon chip technology today, which is a challenge of monumental engineering necessary to sustain progress in the computer industry. IBM says the options include carbon nanotubes and graphene, silicon photonics, quantum computing, brainlike architectures, and silicon substitutes that could run faster.
The company says there is an urgent need for new materials and circuit architecture designs compatible with this engineering process as the technology industry nears physical scalability limits of the silicon transistor. The ambitious goal of IBM is to leave the era of the silicon behind and to go with new materials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes in the future.
This steady progress is tremendously important for cloud computing and big data analysis. For the last several years, IBM has invested heavily in these areas. Two-thirds of IBM Research’s work are now devoted to data, analytics and cognitive computing. Cramming more transistors on a given area means that mobile phones can play video instead of just making phone calls, appointments can notify watches rather than just tell the time and authentication, chips can be incorporated into credit cards, more development could be possible in data analysis and most importantly this will benefit cloud computing.
The big blue company also operates IBM Watson Group, a new division that will bring together software, services, research, experts and market forces to accelerate the development and marketing of new classes of applications dedicated to the cognitive informatics and big data.
It is important to note that IBM has already been working on these technologies for several years. The company spends about $6 billion annually in R&D. However, it is not surprising that companies like Intel, Samsung, HP, Microsoft and Google are also investing money to develop technologies based on smaller chips.