IBM seems to have concluded that graphene won’t be replacing silicon inside CPUs anytime soon.
“Graphene – as it is – will not replace the role of silicon in the digital computing regime,” confirmed IBM’s Yu-Ming Lin.
Intel’s director of components research, Mike Mayberry expressed similar sentiments, noting that the composition of silicon makes it quite a suitable material.
“The industry has so much experience with it that there are no plans to move away from silicon as the substrate for chips.”
So, what is graphene?
Well, the recently discovered form of carbon comprises only a single plain layer of atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice.
It offers high conductivity, along with other beneficial properties and has been touted as a possible successor to “classic” silicon.
Indeed, Big Blue recently demoed a radio-frequency graphene transistor that boasted a frequency of 100 GigaHertz.
However, Lin emphasized that there was an “important distinction” between the showcased graphene transistors and transistors used in a CPU.
“Unlike silicon, graphene does not have an energy gap, and therefore, graphene cannot be ‘switched off,’ resulting in a small on/off ratio,” he explained.
Nevertheless, Lin said that graphene may eventually be tapped to complement silicon as a hybrid circuit designed to optimize chips, specifically those used in RF circuits.