International Business Machines is to accelerate market uptake of its fast, high-capacity microchip design by making the innovative copper circuit technology available to other custom chip developers. IBM first announced its copper breakthrough in September.
From this month, the company will supply design kits designated SA-27 to custom chip builders who want to take advantage of the higher densities and processing speeds afforded by copper over aluminium wiring used in conventional chip manufacture.
Custom chips (ASICs) are faster than ordinary microprocessors as all the available processing power is dedicated to performing special functions, such as the manipulation of 3D graphics.
Product developers use ASICs to introduce these functions into electronic equipment, ranging from games to sophisticated telephone switching systems. Custom logic combined with existing circuit designs called cores creates unique chips that can give a product its market lead.
IBM’s technology, allowing developers to squeeze more intelligence onto smaller chips, will give added push to a burgeoning ASIC market expected to be worth £40bn a year in 2001.