"We really do see the clock ticking on silicon," says Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President of IBM Systems & Technology Group.
Today's state-of-the-art IBM chips use silicon components that are already tiny — just 22 nanometers in width. But looking about five years into the future, parts become so small that it becomes extremely difficult to maintain a reliable on or off state. "As we get into the 7 nanometer timeframe, things really begin to taper off," Rosamilia says.
So the first step of IBM's $3 billion quest will fund research into ways of making these smaller chip components work — even if they don't use silicon.