IBM unveils the world’s first 2nm chip, previewing the future of energy-efficient silicons

IBM announces 2nm chip World's first process
Honor X9b Ad
Honor X9b Ad

Because of the ongoing pandemic, the majority of industries are facing chip shortages and analysts say it could last through 2021. The crunch has expanded from automotive chips that power car brakes to consumer electronics. Despite this, IBM has announced the world’s first 2nm chip. The company says it is expected to perform 45% better or use 75% less energy than the current 7nm process technology.

IBM unveils world’s first 2nm chip:

IBM was the first to announce 7nm and 5nm test chips. And, with the new 2nm chipset, the company has made yet another breakthrough in the field of semiconductor design. In the age of hybrid cloud, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT), the new 2nm technology is expected to satisfy the ever-increasing consumer demand for high-performance chips.

The 2nm test chip was created at the company’s R&D facility in Albany, New York. It employs Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistors built using IBM’s nanosheet technology. To be more specific, the 2nm chip will have about 50 billion transistors in a fingernail-sized chip, an increase from the 30 billion transistors used in 5nm chips in 2017.


The more transistors the silicon has, a processor designer has more opportunities to incorporate core-level technologies to enhance capabilities for cutting-edge workloads. IBM determines the potential advantage of these 2nm chipsets in terms of:

  • Quadrupling cell phone battery life. This means you might only need to re-charge your handset every four days.
  • It could aid in lowering the carbon footprints of data centers, which account for 1% of global energy consumption. 
  • It has the potential to significantly increase processing capabilities in laptops. 
  • Likewise, it contributes to faster object detection and response time in autonomous vehicles such as self-driving cars.
GAA transistors
Image: Transmission electron microscopy of 2nm chipset

AnandTech reports that the fingernail scale IBM is referring to is 150 square millimeters. The latest 2nm silicon has about 333 million transistors per square millimeter (MTr/mm2). In contrast, the TSMC 5nm chipset has about 172 million transistors per square millimeter (MTr/mm2). Each transistor in an IBM 2nm chip is made up of three stacked nanosheets that are 40nm wide and 5nm high. The GAA employs a cell height of 75nm in total. Likewise, the gate pitch is 44nm, and the gate length is 12nm.


The research and development that led to the 2nm process is clearly the result of years of work by IBM. Since the company already has a lot of testing to do before the 2nm chip is ready for shipment, there are no chances that we could see any products with a new process any time soon. So, to be clear, IBM’s 2nm chipset is just a proof of concept for now.

  • Meanwhile, check out our review of the Galaxy A52.