IBM Launches New Chip Technology That Could Dramatically Improve Your Smartphone’s Power Consumption


IBM on Thursday debuted the world’s first 2-nanometer chip making technology, which could enable massive performance gains in terms of both power and battery life over the current industry-leading processors found in everything from smartphones and tablets to the huge computer servers that power the cloud.

A chip’s nanometer size refers to the length of its transistors. Transistors are the most basic part of a processor and allow for the on and off signals that make up the 1s and 0s of binary instructions, the foundation of all computer code.

The smaller the size of a transistor, the more that can be packed onto a chip, which means more powerful processors. Smaller transistors also mean chips that consume less power, making them more efficient than their predecessors.

IBM’s new chip technology is leaps beyond what standard modern 7-nm chips have to offer. The new chips will provide a 45% performance boost when consuming the same power as the larger 7-nm chips.

If you keep the same level of performance in the 2-nm chip as current 7-nm chips, however, Gil says you can improve overall battery life by as much as 75%.

While improved iPhone battery life sounds great, the biggest changes could come to the amount of power required by the massive data centers that serve as the backbone of the world’s cloud infrastructure.

With more efficient chips, those facilities would use far less power, helping to limit their emissions.

IBM says they are partnering with Samsung among other firms to get 2-nm the technology into devices around the world. But that won’t be happening anytime soon. According to Gil, mass production won’t kick off for a few more years.

That means the new tech won’t help ease the ongoing global chip shortage, which has roiled more than 169 industries in the U.S. ranging from automakers to air conditioning producers, according to a survey by Goldman Sachs.

It will also take time for the chips to find their way into the devices we use every day once they are being produced at scale. But if it means a cellphone that lasts as long as four days on a single charge, the wait will be worth it.