IBM announced a breakthrough in semiconductor design by developing the world’s first 2 nanometers (nm)chip.

Semiconductors are the heart of every technology that is governing our world today—from computing to appliances, to communication devices, transportation systems, and critical infrastructure. The demand for nano chips is increasing as more information and performance can be packed in these small units, especially in the era of hybrid cloud, AI, and the Internet of Things.

The chip was developed in IBM’s research laboratory in Albany, United States, and is expected to bring broad benefits to the technology sector.

A 2 nm wafer fabricated at IBM Research’s Albany facility. The wafer contains hundreds of individual chips. Courtesy of IBM

The new 2 nm chip is projected to achieve 45 percent higher performance, or 75 percent lower energy use, than today’s most advanced 7 nm node chips.

The company claims that the chip can quadruple a cellphone’s battery life, meaning one needs to charge the cell only once in four days.

It is more energy-efficient as it will reduce the carbon footprints of data centers.

It will speed up laptop functions ranging from quicker processing in applications to assisting in language translation more easily to faster internet access.

“The IBM innovation reflected in this new 2 nm chip is essential to the entire semiconductor and IT industry,” said Darío Gil, SVP and Director of IBM Research. “It is the product of IBM’s approach of taking on hard tech challenges and a demonstration of how breakthroughs can result from sustained investments and a collaborative R&D ecosystem approach.”

The 2 nm design demonstrates the advanced scaling of semiconductors using IBM’s nanosheet technology. This latest breakthrough will allow the 2 nm chip to fit up to 50 billion transistors on a chip the size of a fingernail. More transistors on a chip also mean more options for core-level innovations to improve capabilities for leading-edge AI and cloud computing, as well as new pathways for hardware-enforced security and encryption.

“This can be seen as a breakthrough,” said Peter Rudden, research director at market analysis firm IDC in an interview to BBC. “We have seen semiconductor manufacturers go from 14 nm to 10 nm and 7 nm, 7 nm being a real challenge for some.” He said that IBM’s breakthrough could be used for artificial intelligence applications, which today need a powerful graphics card to perform some tasks.

More transistors on a chip also means processor designers have more options to infuse core-level innovations to improve capabilities for leading edge workloads like AI and cloud computing, as well as new pathways for hardware-enforced security and encryption.

The world is witnessing a shortage of microchips affecting the production of smart devices and automobiles due to the trade war between China nada the US, which restricts technological use and imports of certain technological components. Along with that, the coronavirus has disrupted the supply chain pipeline of many companies, delaying production targets.