Big Blue's Unlikely Speedster

Defying the conventional wisdom, IBM has melded incompatible layers of silicon and germanium to produce the world's fastest chip

IBM set a new marker on Feb. 25 when it unveiled the fastest silicon-based chip to date at a semiconductor industry conference in San Mateo, Calif. Big Blue's new marvel zips along at a blazing 110 gigahertz (GHz), thanks to transistors that can switch on or off 285 billion times every second -- far more than the 200 billion cycles per second that had been considered the red-line maximum for silicon transistors.

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