IBM, 3M team to glue together high-powered silicon bricks for servers, smartphones

IBM and 3M today said they will jointly develop a new line of adhesives they hope will let them make it possible to build commercial microprocessors composed of layers of up to 100 separate chips.

Such stacking would allow for higher-powered servers and more advanced consumer electronics applications, the companies stated. Processors could be tightly packed with memory and networking, for example, into a "brick" of silicon that would create a computer chip 1,000 times faster than today's fastest microprocessor enabling more powerful smartphones, tablets, computers and gaming devices.

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The companies say new adhesives are needed that can efficiently conduct heat through a densely packed stack of chips and away from heat-sensitive components such as logic circuits. 3M and IBM plan to develop adhesives that can be applied to silicon wafers, coating hundreds or even thousands of chips at a single time.

"Today's chips, including those containing '3D' transistors, are in fact 2D chips that are still very flat structures," said Bernard Meyerson, vice president of research for IBM in a statement. "Our scientists are aiming to develop materials that will allow us to package tremendous amounts of computing power into a new form factor - a silicon 'skyscraper.' We believe we can advance the state-of-art in packaging, and create a new class of semiconductors that offer more speed and capabilities while they keep power usage low -- key requirements for many manufacturers, especially for makers of tablets and smartphones."

Under the agreement, IBM will focus on creating unique semiconductor packaging processes, and 3M will develop and manufacturing newfangled adhesives.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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Michael Cooney

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