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IBM unveils ‘fastest’ IC at 110GHz

Blisteringly fast chips for telecoms kit

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IBM says it has created the world's fastest semiconductor circuit, one that operates at speeds of more than 110GHz.

The technology, called SiGe 8HP, uses the latest silicon germanium (SiGe) chip-making technology, and will be made available to telecommunications equipment manufacturers. The first chips built using SiGe 8HP building blocks are expected to appear later this year.

High speed, low power circuits generally use gallium arsenide and indium phosphide materials but IBM reckons what SiGe offers is better suited for top of the line communications chips because it uses less power.

Compared to pure silicon chips, SiGe provides increased integration capabilities, enabling designers to pack more function onto a single chip, resulting in speed, power, cost and weight savings.

Market research firm IC Insights estimates that SiGe sales totalled $320 million in 2001 and are projected to grow to about $2.7 billion by 2006. IBM had an 80 per cent stake in the market during 2001, IC Insights reports.

IBM's SiGe technology has found its way into RF components in cellular handsets, Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) chipsets, high speed test and measurement equipment, and chipsets for optical data transmission systems. ®

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