IBM is an embarking on an ambitious project to find the next-generation chip technology to replace silicon. IBM will invest $3 billion over the next five years in this project. IBM will look into graphene, carbon nanotubes, quantum computing, silicon photonics and more technologies.

GFET radio frequency receiver IC (IBM)GFET radio frequency receiver IC (IBM)

In the first stage of the project, they will try to build transistors in a 7 nm process, which they believe is already possible using silicon technology available today. But the second stage will look into different materials and architectures. IBM says that it is getting more and more difficult to shrink silicon chips further and silicon is reaching its limits.

The $600-million-per year budget will be re-allocated from IBM's existing R&D budget, which is $6 billion a year. So this huge project represents a 10% shift in the company's R&D activities.

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