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Summary:

Big Blue’s research plans calls for smaller silicon chips and a future in which silicon isn’t even necessary as it invests in other areas of exploratory manufacturing.

IBM is going to pump $3 billion over the next five years into a research and development plan that advances its chip smarts as the company addresses the rise of cloud computing and big data. Basically, IBM hopes this new research initiative will eventually lead to semiconductors that measure only 7 nanometers, which is tiny compared to their current size of 22 nanometers. The smaller the chip, the faster it can be, which is important to cloud computing and big data, both of which require powerful compute.

Additionally, IBM is preparing for a future in which silicon isn’t even needed for chips, as its research endeavor involves looking into other manufacturing areas like quantum devices, carbon nanotubes, photonics, graphene and other exploratory areas of manufacturing.

It’s interesting to note that while IBM is making this broad announcement, which should keep other chip makers like Intel on their toes, the focus of Big Blue’s news is on research and development and not necessarily the actual production of the supposed chips of the future.

In June, it seemed as if IBM was on the verge of selling its chip-making prowess to GlobalFoundries, and today’s news doesn’t throw that out of the water yet. IBM can still end up outsourcing its chip-manufacturing and save some cash while it concentrates on the design at home.

While the company is almost finished with selling off its server business to Lenovo in a $2.3 billion deal first announced in January that is still pending U.S. regulatory approval, today’s announcement makes it seem as if IBM is not ditching the hardware scene altogether, it’s just repositioning itself to deal with the future of chip making.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock user Tomasz Bidermann.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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