IBM & its chip partners Globalfoundries and Samsung have developed a transistor manufacturing process that should pave the way for 5-nanometer chips. While the team etched the chip using the same extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) used for the breakthrough 7nm chip, it ditched the common FinFET (fin field effect) transistor design in favor of stacks of silicon nanosheets. The switch makes it possible to fine-tune individual circuits to maximize their performance.
At 5nm, the group says it can squeeze 30 billion transistors into a chip the size of a fingernail (see below) -- not bad when the 7nm chip held 20 billion transistors a couple of years ago. Just don't expect to see real-world examples of this for a while. 7nm chips won't be seen till around 2018.
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