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TigeR writes "I saw over at 3DNews that IBM has just unvieled some new chipmaking technology. " Its called CMOS 99:"copper wiring, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) transistors and improved, "low-k dielectric" " All this and 0.13 microns. Smaller chips with more punch using less electricity. Everybody wins. Gimme now.
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  • I remember a while back IBM announcing that they'll be using SOI technology with Alpha procs. CMOS 9S (not CMOS 99) and Alpha? What a team. The press release from the horse's mouth [] is here. [] Thet whole "low-k dielectric" thing reminds me of an article [] I read some time ago (June 1998) in Discover. []
  • The article was guessing that 9 stood for 9 layers. I would think since the other feature of this chip is Silicon-on-Insulator its safe to say S is for Silicon!
  • If chips were as faster as announcements about chips ...

    They read like Guiness Book entries. The world's largest submarine sandwich, largest grilled cheeze, largest ________ sandwich.

    They are all chips but our special feature in doing it is _________ and that means we can put out a Gee Whiz press release.

    The rules say we should be impressed but pardon if I don't have enough "impressed" emotions to go around.

  • And all this at a time when the market is slowing down. Gosh. I wonder if, to make a buck on these things, the prices of new hardware will start to go up. After all, Homer Simpson only needs so many MHz to be the Internet King. Maybe if it came with special new instructions to warp the space time continuum or hail passing vogon ships...


  • Those aren't chips, they're DIMMs. A DIMM consists of either 4 or 8 chips on one board (I forget which number).
  • I believe a 10Ghz G3 would toast a 500MHz G4.

    You listnin' Motorola?
  • I'm sure Motorola will have a benchmark that shows that the 500MHz G4 is faster. :-)
  • e= mc squared? nahh its about 2.718281828459045235602874713527

    Nah, it is E=mc^2. It's case-sensitive, you know.

  • The young ones must be out of school for vacation. I think /. has a worse time with them than radio shows.
  • With the usual inverse proportionality between size of component and size of packaging, as we approach incredibly small chips, I forcast the need for individual 747s to transport each unit.

  • And in other news, Water is Wet, Gravity Sucks, and Nader Still Lost.

    Program Intellivision! []
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is nothing new. IBM has always had the best process technology in the industry, at least for the last 10 years. What IBM has been missing is a marketing department that announces vaporware (see Intel announcement today). If you look at it, IBM has invented just about every process technology that has enhanced IC performance in the last 10 years.
    - shallow trench isolation (STI). People considered IBM crazy when they said they'd just polish the wafers essentially in a mud slurry and keep defect counts low. IBM pulled it off and everyone followed.
    - Copper interconnect. Copper is a deep trap in silicon, so people said you'd be crazy using this stuff in a fab. If you do it incorrectly, you can contaminate the entire fab. IBM did it.
    - SOI technology. Other companies cancelled their SOI programs in the last downturn, IBM kept it alive. They are now harvesting the fruits.
    - low k1 (leading to lower capacitance, faster switching speeds). Admittedly, others are working on it too, but it seems IBM solved the remaining problems first.

    In general, there are a whole bunch of areas where IBM is the undisputed leader (e.g. lithography - IC patterning, SOI, DRAM). They don't need to announce vaporware to push their stock, they just do it.
  • I like the Gimme Now comment... Sur, give it to him NOW, then watch him complain that it wasn't ready for market and that they released it too soon =)
  • "Intel topping the charts"? What news have you been reading? Can anyone name a real technology breakthrough like this that Intel has come up with in the last 5 years? The only thing Intel tops the charts in is announcements of lower-than-expected earnings and recalls of their newest processors. There's no "technology deathmatch"--IBM is winning, hands-down. Intel is just a crappy monopolistic giant trying to force second-rate technology like RAMBUS down everyone's throat. Even worse, I have to work at this dump... I'm going to be looking to move to IBM as soon as possible.

    Well if you scroll Slashdot's homepage down just a tad bit further you'll notice the post announcing 30 nanometer transistor technology achieved by Intel. Don't be blinded by the hype. This company has made some bad decisions in the past but that doesn't mean they can't come up with nifty hardware tech anymore.

    Just out of curiosity, what job do you have at Intel ?
  • by FatSean ( 18753 )
    PowerPC. It's IBM...when's the last time IBM created an x86 architecture processor?
  • It has been tried before, but an insulating substrate is costly. Both RCA and HP tried "SOS" chips, silicon-on-saphire, but the advantages didn't compensate for the much higher cost.

    SOI is significantly different from SOS, for one thing the insulator is not sapphire, and the advantages do look like they will be able to compensate for the higher cost. Chief among them are freedom from body effect and latch-up and ultra low-voltage operation. People have been interested for years in SOI technologies, including SOS, but have in the past only used them for radiation-hard military/space type things because of the cost. Today, with much lower defect densities in SOI wafers, the cost is decreasing dramatically.

  • I can't imagine a 0.13 micron chip. Packaging must be a nightmare.

    Not really. All you need is a bag of your regular ~3-7 cm chips and a large mallet...
  • Good point, but I was referring more to the fact that IBM has released news on the CMOS 9S and the MRAM in the past week. It's been mostly AMD and Intel in the past year. IBM has been around since long before the two of them, but hasn't been making much noise in recent months.
  • They've pretty much stripped the latency down, almost to the cell-level factors I spoke of. Plus those imbedded DRAMs are quite a bit smaller than the 256Mb stuff seen in commodity SDRAM today. Remember that imbedded DRAM doesn't need big off-chip drivers, doesn't need multiplexed addresses, doesn't even need multiplexed data input and output. Some amount of conventional access time comes from all the stuff added to make a DRAM talk to other chips over a small number of pins.
  • This is allow chip performance to be increased

    Going to 0.13 circuitry get smaller

    these guys must have went to the same grammer school :-]
  • Here []
  • Actually, I'm using Windows 2000, and I could leave it on for months on end, but my parents don't like having me leave the computer on for so long. Also, it's their power bill, so I only leave it on when I'm using it.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @09:57AM (#566950) Homepage Journal
    Ok, /. skipped my more detailed article in favor of this crumb, but here's the links I had:

    IBM's announcement []

    The Register article [] concerning 10 GHz Power PC processors.


  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @09:58AM (#566951)
    ...the linux substrate registry won't correctly identify this manufacturing process.

  • the technology is called CMOS9S not CMOS 99
  • Ball Semiconductor [] although I'm not really clear on why this is so great.

    You can find this yourself by searching "silicon spheres integrated circuits" on Google.

  • One more thing I'd like to add. Now that IBM seems to be actually doing something, why not combine this whole CMOS 9S thing with MRAM?
  • Yeah they are called Ball Semiconductor. They want to process the balls in evacuated glass tubes to reduce the expense of manufacturing facilities. Try
  • must have gone to the same grammar school.

    If you're going to attack someone else's grammar, check your own first. Jeez.

  • First guess at an URL was [].
  • There are several problems when doing 3D chip design, even using modular "beads"... most of the problems have to do with propogation. That is to say clock signal propogation and heat propogation.

    It's impossible to make 3D "modules" that don't end up burying circut components *very* deeply (think about a 16x16x16 bit "processor": even if each junction has just three transistors (up, down, right) you end up with transistors that are 24 times their size away from heat dissipation -- in ANY direction. they don't have a substrate to wick away heat, nor a nice big surface of nice heat conductors (read: metal) only a few microns away (like in the case of your M1,M2... layers in traditional chip fab). Of course, this will typically be MUCH higher since at each element in the matrix you'll want to actually DO something instead of just switch...

    PS. I'm talking out of my ass so if you moderate me up, I'll cut off your balls.
    ...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...
  • We have just received word that Intel and Pringles are in league with one another. Apparently Pringles' motto: "Once you pop, you can't stop." and the x86 architecture assembly language command "pop [reg] []" go hand in hand. There are reports from users that the new 386 instruction, "popad []", actually displays Pringles ads on the display. We will have more at 11.
    (due to the lack of time in writing this, I grabbed the first link containing the info I need from a search. It may or may not be the best ASM document, but that's not my point here :)
  • Apparently Ball Semiconductor [] is the company making this product. What I had believed to be 3d modular architecture is a stand-alone product. The 3d sphere itself has the whole chip etched on it. Ball Semiconductor states that they can produce chips at a much higher rate .

    This could all be propaganda. I am interested in the heat dissipation on these bad mamajamas though, so I emailed them to get some tech specs on how they deal with this.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Boot time is such a worthless metric. And in the media, they're not only using it, but are *excited* about it. What gives? I reboot my computer as little as possible. Advances in power saving modes seem to be a superior trick, since not only does the computer come online in minimal seconds, but it's exactly in the state you left it in. Clamoring for reducing boot time on computers seems equivalent to clamoring for cup holders in cars -- nice, but when it comes down to it, should you really care?
  • If you're going to attack someone else's grammar, check your own first. Jeez.

    Uh, he deliberately wrote it that way as a joke. It's making a humorous point by imitating the thing he was commenting on. Get it now?

  • the advantage of ball semiconductors is manufacturing. you can mass produce them at an incredible rate.

    however, the draw back is that the transistor size is MUCH larger. (5 microns, i think) in other words, we won't see these 2 technologies combined for a long time.

    i don't have time to look up the details but if i remember correctly, their transistors were on the order of 5.0um. Thats about 30 times larger than the 0.13um transistors that we can print on wafers.

    do a search for "ball semiconductor" and you will find a lot of information.
  • 86x or PPC ?

    Is this a leap over Intel current capabilities.
  • Funny you should bring that up...

    An old college roommate had a theory that they simply put one Pringle's chip in the bottom of an empty can and sealed the can shut.

    The Pringle's chips subsequently reproduce asexually. When all oxygen and space resources are consumed, they cease to reproduce.

    Voila, a full can of eerie, perfectly-formed potato chips.


  • by cydorg_monkey ( 259983 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @09:32AM (#566966) Homepage
    I still think Pringles lead in chip technology. How do they make them so perfect?

  • That would be very useful, especially for notebooks. I don't reboot my desktop PC much, so I don't care much on its behalf, but for a mobile device it would be wonderful. For them, instant on is essential. I would rarely, if at all, use my Palm if it took eight seconds to boot.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @09:32AM (#566968) Homepage
    Now, if only we could get a Beowolf mean...

    It's a shame that news like this so seldom gets people excited anymore. "They made a faster, smaller microchip!? Who would have thought it?" Leaps in technology like this, however, don't happen automatically. There are researchers busting their asses daily trying to squeeze every last drop of performance out of hardware.

  • We've been using CMOS processor complexes for the better part of the last 2 or 3 years. Is this really new, or am I missing something?
  • It's impossible to leave a single pringle chip in a tube. Some fool will always come along and shake it to pieces. We have experimental data on this.

    Awwww, c'mon moderators -- I thought that one was pretty funny!

  • We do have people working on it. Instead of Intel doing it though, we have some Linux hackers taking a stab at it. Check it out - Linux Bios project [].
  • According to the article on The Reg [], this technology is going to be used in a 10GHz PowerPC chip, and maybe a G3 or G4 follow on.
  • Everybody wins.

    Mmmhhh, new stuff. New stuff = expensive stuff = evil(tm).

    Will wait.
  • CMOS 99? Isn't that marketing "retro?" Or should I think 2099? Ooh. Cool, far-off future tech.
  • I wonder how long before this process is used in mainstream applications? 12-24 months is my guess. Maybe we will see some small equipment, like lighter laptops and smaller CPUs.
  • It stands for layerS, of course. 9 layerS, 9S :)
  • Either OOG THE CAVEMAN is writing articles or Grimlock from the Dinobots has a new job.

  • They already make 512mb chips, and as I'm looking on pricewatch here, they apparently have a 1gb pc100 chip. But I see what you mean, this can probably lead to, ya know, bigger stuff. gandalf18
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @10:13AM (#566979) Homepage Journal
    I prefer Cape Cod Salt and Vinegar. I can't imagine a 0.13 micron chip. Packaging must be a nightmare.

    For more on early Potato Chip technology and Fabs: link []

    Next in the news, IBM announces BBQ, Sour Cream & Onion and Cool Ranch chips. Intel counters with theoretical Mesquite and Cheddar flavored P4's.


  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @11:02AM (#566980) Homepage Journal
    The IBMlogic and DRAM processes are somewhat separated because they are drive by different needs. DRAM is driven almost exclusively by density and cost. Logic is driven by performance and wirability. The big sharing point between the two is in the photolithography development.

    Incidentally, DRAM is unlikely to move into SOI any time soon, because the raw wafers have too many defects. For ordinary circuits that class of defects doesn't really matter, but when you're trying to store fewer than 50,000 electrons for 64,000,000 nS, they can kill.

    DRAM is much better off in bulk or epi silicon, rather than SOI. Besides, there's so much density and cost pressure that relatively crude, slow devices are used. Even if one wanted to pay for faster transistors, it wouldn't do you much good. The paramount need to shut off the switch into the DRAM cell (so it can hold that 0 or 1) means that particular transistor *can't* be optimized for performance, and that one link can quickly become the performance-dominating factor. In other words, it isn't terribly cost-effective for an ordinary DRAM to pay for fast transistors.
  • Dinobots!!!

    You just made my day 8^)
  • ah yes, but:

    (New Stuff - 1) = was expensive, now cheaper = good(tm).
  • It has been tried before, but an insulating substrate is costly. Both RCA and HP tried "SOS" chips, silicon-on-saphire, but the advantages didn't compensate for the much higher cost.
  • Now that IBM seems to be actually doing something...

    IBM has been doing something for a long time - you've just not been paying attention. They have one of the premier microelectronics research programs in the world, along with a computer architecture group that is second to none. Example: all IBM mainframe products have been switched over to run on the PowerPC chip, along with the AS/400 and the RS/6000.


  • If you go read the full story at [] you'll see the new processs is called CMOS 9S. CmdrTaco had it posted correctly on the main page.
  • Copper interconnects are supposed to be cheaper.. I wonder how much the costs offset?

    Your Working Boy,
  • IBM working on faster chips, Intel reported doing same []

    Nothing I can say would be any funnier than that headline. :)
  • by andr0meda ( 167375 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @12:22PM (#566988) Journal

    Those researchers don't get the respect they deserve because normal people don't rate those breakthroughs as high, because the need for such technical progression, from their point of view, is simply not graspable for them. It's not as apparent anymore, because the applicaitons they use allready run.. on a functional level, computers have little more to offer, it can only get faster and easier to use, but that's about it.

    So sure, in the good old days, people cared to go from 16 mhz to 40. Even though that was a small step, together with a few other enhancements to the system architecture, it made windows 3.11 a reality (I'm not trying to say windows is my criterium for progression here, it's just the OS I used back then).

    Now clockspeeds jump from 1.1ghz to 1.5ghz or whatever, but John Doe doesn't care about this.. he cares about reading his email now. Windows 2000 runs fine on his 166 or 180, he doesn't really need "faster", that is just a convenience that 'happens automatically when you buy a new pc". The ones who need "faster" are the ones playing games, like his kids perhaps, but then you also see that todays games and gamesystems are shifting allmost completely into a dedicated market. PS2, DC, Xbox,..

    I'm NOT saying chipmakers should stop getting on with their new designs and research. *I* WANT these fast things as much as the next guy who likes to game every now and then. But to most people, the difference between 1.1 and 1.5 means as much as the difference between windows 98 and 98OSR2 I think.

    Still, *clap* *clap* for Big Blue!.. the one minute it's Intel topping the charts, the next it's IBM.. seems like technology deathmatch at times..
  • I love IBM because of things like this. While companies like Intel, Microsoft, even RedHat to some extent seem to only care about money and short term gains, it warms my hart to see a company spending almost 30 years developing a new memory technology. I love S/390 and their other mainframes, even though I've never used one (not that I know of atleast). I know I'm being too harsh on Intel, and not harsh enough on IBM - they are both in it for the money. Still, when I think of IBM all I can think is how much solid research and engineering that company has done, and the nerd in me is ready to forgive everything. I mean.. could you not love them?


  • It might be significantly harder to scale the G4 with that vector engine. RISC CPU's are much easier. I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but I believe IBM is more likely to apply it to their own G3 successor.
  • On behalf of os/390 system programmers everywhere, I'd like to say, "we love ya too". Now, get outta here, ya big lug...>sniff,sniff...
  • A day worth waiting to see...

    Printing on the packaging of an IBM PPC or Intel P4 (or Itanium):

    Sold by unit not by volume. Contents may have settled during shipping.


  • go grab a dictionary and look up "irony". Perhaps that'll help...
  • huh? How often do you boot? Oh, wait you're running windows... my bad!
  • CMOS = Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor

    CCS = Compilementary Copper Semiconductor

    But the complementary thing is a bit abitrary, so

    CS = Copper Semiconductor

    is perhaps more appropriate

  • by theEd ( 61232 )
    Quoth the raven..

    "This new manufacturing technique will be used to produce future generations of the IBM POWER4"

    The POWER4 is not a PowerPC processor, but they are related. The best way to define the two, POWER and PowerPC, is...

    • POWER - A RISC Architecture developed by IBM.
    • PowerPC - A single chip implementation of the POWER architecture developed jointly by IBM, Motorola, and Apple.

    The POWER4 will be a 4 chips on a single die. Each chip in the POWER4 will consist of 2 processing cores with a shared L2 cache. Speed between cores in a chip will be >100 GB/s. Speed between chips will be >500 MHz (>35 GB/s).

    More details can be found at 9.pdf []

    - George

  • Cmon, everybody knows that CmdrTaco can't spell to save his life. It's actually called CMOS 9S, as the title line of the article stated.
  • My sarcasm is just silliness. This looks like nice tech.
  • Shift to the Left!
    Shift to the Right!
    Pop Up!
    Push Down!
    Byte! Byte! Byte

    Michael D. Crawford
    GoingWare Inc

  • by heinzkeinz ( 18262 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @09:43AM (#567000) Homepage
    You can find more information from IBM here [] and here [].
  • now combine this with intel's nanotechnology, the 3-atoms-thick thing. of course, that would require a lot more cooperation than everyone would be willing to provide. but if this eventually happens, we may hit the 10GHz mark even faster than everyone thought.
  • by Panamon777 ( 78286 ) on Monday December 11, 2000 @09:43AM (#567002) to pump out 512 MB and 1 GB RAM chips. If the process can be done in a conventional fab facility, it shouldn't take more than year or two. RAM is, as solid state devices go, among the simpler things to make. (It's still complicated as hell, but not compared to processors or whatnot. That's why RAM has a lifetime warranty.) However, I have no clue as to whether or not most mobo's would support a RAM chip of that capacity.

    And if I'm way off on the semiconductor stuff, I'd be as interested as anyone to find what's correct.

  • I'm not an IBM fanboy or anything but... Get on with your bad self IBM!!

    Assuming this isn't vaporware, this is the 3rd time in a month IBM is in the news with a new tech. My point behind this post is that IBM was downgraded (IMO) to underdog status because of stagnation in the mid 90's. Now look at em, they're pushing ahead into the future as hard as AMD/Intel by revolutionizing and inventing instead of incrementing technology.
    "Me Ted"
  • In their own words:
    We buy potatoes in the form of potato flakes and then add just enough water and other wholesome ingredients

    Reading the can, those wholesome ingredients are: Wheat Starch, Maltodextrin (from Corn), Salt, and Dextrose (from Corn)

    Yep, just add MSG and Caffiene and they'd be an important part of any geek diet. Yum! =9


  • 512MB-1GB RAM chips will probably, more than anything else, push 64-bit architectures into end-user systems.

    With these chips, 4+GB DIMMs should become fairly commonplace. With that sort of capacity, 32-bit addressing becomes very cramped (as cramped as can be, to be precise).
  • Note also that the chips in the new AS/400 and RS/6ks make use of the SOI: tm l (just ignore the bit about the XML ;-)

    The low-k stuff is newer, but should provide an ever larger boost to the various e-Server series.
  • Since when does this particular carbohydrate [] include sodium?

    and then in a desperate attempt to get back on topic(!)

    I think the S in CMOS 9S is in some kinda rare isotope of Silicon, Silicon-9, which is soooo rare they can scarcely manage enough to make a chip of 0.13 microns. No there's a low fat chip...

    oooh, it was almost a good save, but that pun will surely be rewarded with a downward mod...


  • Yes, straying from the topic, but still semi-relevant. Recently, Intel set a goal to have a PC boot from the BIOS in less than eight seconds. Currently, that figure is at around 30 seconds with things like on-chip virus detection and ATA-66/100 adapters delaying the boot time. Why can't the companies start working on that?
  • An important application of new process technology is that you can make a faster chip, or use the same process technology to create lower power processors. We might not need more performance for many applications, but high performance at 500 mW is still interesting.

    Yes, IBM's 9S is more advanced than the current 8S2 process. However the current process (8S2) already uses copper wires and SOI, and the low-k dielectric is already in use in IBM's C-11 ASIC process []. In addition C-11 has embedded DRAM on chip.

    IBM seems to be fighting with Intel and AMD for the lead in process technology. Remember IBM is also fabing the next generation of Alpha processors as well as Transmeta's Crusoe.

  • by ruck ( 156392 )
    Does anyone else find it interesting that Intel is making all these announcements right before they release their prospective earnings report? Just a thought.
  • Nevermind... This one is from IBM, not Intel, and I'm on crack. darn blue logos.
  • well, cmrdtaco forgot to preview .... it should read 9S, not 99 ....... (according to the article, and common sense, the 9 comes from the 9 layers of copper they use ..... don't know 'bout the S though .....)
  • Umm.. That press release link says absolutely nothing about Alpha processors. It's highly doubtful that IBM would help one of its major competitors against its new Power4 chip by giving them a leg-up on finding a better manufacturing process.

    'Course, it could be true. They have been fabbing chips for AMD and letting AMD use their copper interconnect technology. (They and Motorola seem to be making it abundantly clear that they don't care about the desktop market, much to my frustration.) I just doubt that IBM would help a competitor in the server market.
  • everybody wins

    Well, maybe Intel doesn't win. :-)
  • Both RCA and HP tried "SOS" chips, silicon-on-saphire, but the advantages didn't compensate for the much higher cost.

    I think the silicon-on-saphire helps making circuits rad-hard. At least last time I skimed a rad-hard catalouge RCA had a 10Mhz MIPS R2000 clone done on SOS, and a lot of the other parts were SOS also.

  • Does anyone recall the company from Japan that is researching a high speed manufacturing process using spheres of silicon instead of waifers? Apparently they would each have specific functions and be stacked in a 3d matrix for connectivity. The product was ?microbead architecture? or something like that. If anyone could find information on this I would appreciate it.

    Increase in production, combined with increase of chip speed= more chips we can use to design faster ways of producing faster chips. Sounds like natural log to me.

    e= mc squared? nahh its about 2.718281828459045235602874713527

grep me no patterns and I'll tell you no lines.