Lord knows, getting any kind of breakthrough innovation in the computer hardware sector is like working at Dunkin' Donuts ... so many variations using pretty much the same materials again and again.

Michael Singer, Contributor

March 26, 2007

2 Min Read

Lord knows, getting any kind of breakthrough innovation in the computer hardware sector is like working at Dunkin' Donuts ... so many variations using pretty much the same materials again and again.Case in point is IBM's frosting on the fried dough of an announcement Monday. The company said its engineers built an optical chipset so powerful that it can "reduce the download time for a typical high-definition feature-length film to a single second compared to 30 minutes or more."

A tip of the pen is in order for these engineers if this pans out. Most of the faster, cheaper, out-of-control microprocessors and their related chipsets that we see today are the result of five to seven years of R&D; a year or two of proof-of-concept testing; and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. These guys have been thinking about this particular chipset for some time.

That said, what's amazing is the IBM Research group took the basic CMOS design that's been around since the '60s and mixed up the formula with some uncommon compounds -- things like indium phosphide (InP) and gallium arsenide (GaAs).

The result is a chipset that's about the size of FDR's chin on a dime. You can see a picture of it on IBM's Web site.

When I describe chipsets to my nontechie friends, I say they are the equivalent of a custom engine kit for a stock car. The CPU is the main engine. The chipset can help regulate air intake and velocity. Hopefully IBM can market the technology soon, since I'm sure we'd all rather be riding in a Porsche Boxster than a Ford Pinto.

Up next, is it "Pimp My Power Architecture" or, better perhaps, "Extreme Makeover: Chipset Edition?"

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