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Frozen Chip Claims Speed Record

IBM and Georgia Tech claimed they demonstrated the first silicon-based chip capable of operating at frequencies above 500 GHz by cryogenically "freezing" the circuit to minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit.
IBM and the Georgia Institute of Technology last week claimed they broke the silicon speed record, thanks in part to a "frozen chip."

They said they demonstrated the first silicon-based chip capable of operating at frequencies above 500 GHz by cryogenically "freezing" the circuit to minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit.

The joint IBM-Georgia Tech experiments are part of a project to explore the ultimate speed limits of silicon germanium, or SiGe, devices, which are said to operate faster at cold temperatures.

Ultrahigh-frequency SiGe circuits have potential applications in commercial communications systems, military electronics, and remote sensing. The research could make possible a new class of powerful, low-energy chips that will deliver future applications like HDTV and movie-quality video to automobiles, cell phones, and other devices.

The chips used in the research are from a prototype fourth-generation SiGe technology fabricated by IBM on 200-mm wafers. At room temperature, the circuits operated at approximately 350 GHz.

According to Georgia Tech and IBM, the technology uses large wafers and silicon-compatible low-cost manufacturing techniques.