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June 19, 2006

IBM gets 500 GHz silicon germanium chips

BM (Armonk, N.Y.) and Georgia Tech (Atlanta) claimed that they have demonstrated the first silicon-based chip capable of operating at frequencies above 500-GHz by cryogenically "freezing" the circuit to 451 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (4.5 Kelvins). The chips used in the research are from a prototype fourth-generation SiGe technology fabricated by IBM on 200-mm wafers. At room temperature, the circuits operated at approximately 350-GHz.

The devices used in the research are from a prototype fourth-generation SiGe technology fabricated at IBM on a 200-millimeter wafer using an older un-optimized mask set. Simulations suggest that the technology could ultimately support much higher (near-Terahertz) operational frequencies at room temperature, Cressler said.

"For the first time, Georgia Tech and IBM have demonstrated that speeds of half a trillion cycles per second can be achieved in a commercial silicon-based technology, using large wafers and silicon-compatible low-cost manufacturing techniques," said John Cressler, Byers Professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a researcher in the Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC) at Georgia Tech, in a statement.

Ultra-high-frequency SiGe circuits have potential applications in commercial communications systems, defense electronics, space exploration and remote sensing. The research could make possible a new class of powerful, low-energy chips that will deliver futurist applications like HDTV and movie-quality video to cell phones, automobiles and other devices.

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