IBM is set to throw $3bn (£1.75bn) at researching technology for the "post-silicon era" over the next five years, it announced today, claiming that current products have a fast-approaching expiration date.
Big Blue unveiled two research and early-stage development programmes today which it claims "push the limits of chip technology" in order to meet the demands of cloud computing and big data tech.
Research teams based across the US and Europe will be charged with creating new chip technology which will replace today's, which are usually made of silicon. The new development will focus on technology areas such as carbon nanoelectronics, new memory technologies, and architectures that support cognitive computing.
IBM has been investing in cognitive computing for a number of years and its Watson supercomputer creation – which is based on the technology – recently created its own brand of barbecue sauce.
Big Blue said its $3bn research projects will pave the way towards a "post-silicon era".
"Silicon transistors – tiny switches that carry information on a chip – have been made smaller year after year, but they are approaching a point of physical limitation," the vendor said.
"Their increasingly small dimensions, now reaching the nanoscale, will prohibit any gains in performance due to the nature of silicon and the laws of physics."
It said potential silicon replacements could be made from new materials such as carbon nanotubes.
John Kelly, IBM's senior vice president for research, said Big Blue is more than ready to pioneer the next era of technology.
"IBM engineers and scientists, along with our partners, are well suited to this challenge and are already working on the materials science and device engineering required to meet the demands of the emerging system requirements for cloud, big data, and cognitive systems," he said.
"This new investment will ensure that we produce the necessary innovations to meet these challenges."
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