IBM ASIC technology helps power new Cray X1 supercomputer

1/3/2003 - IBM announced that it is the sole application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) technology provider for the new Cray (Nasdaq: CRAY) X1 supercomputer, which is now being shipped to customers.

The Cray supercomputer contains 800 IBM ASIC chips, designed by Cray exclusively for the X1 and manufactured by IBM. The chips feature gate counts as high as 14.2 million, an average gate count of about 9.5 million, and a total gate count of about 7.5 billion (a gate is a basic logic circuit). The ASICs chips provide processing power for the new Cray system, and are used for both scalar computation and vector processing. The chips, arrayed on multi-chip modules (MCM), utilize IBM's advanced copper technology.

"It takes technology, design skills and a broad portfolio of intellectual property to be successful in the high-performance ASICs business, and IBM has all these ingredients," said Bruce Beers, vice president, IT segment, IBM Microelectronics. "IBM and Cray were able to leverage each other's technological strengths, and combined to achieve the functional density, speed and processing power needed in a highly sophisticated system."

Over the years, IBM has developed proprietary tools and methodologies that have helped make some of the most sophisticated chips in the industry, including million-plus gate count designs.

Industry's Most Advanced ASIC Offering
IBM has the industry's most advanced ASIC offering. Called Cu-08, it supports circuits as small as 90 nanometers (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter), as well as innovative materials and design techniques to drive power consumption down by as much as 40 percent while pushing performance up as much as 20 percent.

Cu-08 supports up to eight layers of copper wiring, separated by an advanced "low-k dielectric" insulation, linking hundreds of millions of transistors to form up to 72 million wireable gates all on a single chip. Cu-08 can be used to create complete system-on-a-chip designs, where elements such as processors, memory and analog functions all are combined on one piece of silicon.

About IBM Microelectronics
IBM Microelectronics is a key contributor to IBM's role as the world's premier information technology supplier. IBM Microelectronics develops, manufactures and markets state-of-the-art semiconductor, ASIC and interconnect technologies, products and services. Its superior integrated solutions can be found in many of the world's best-known electronic brands.

IBM is a recognized innovator in the chip industry, having been first with advances like more power-efficient copper wiring in place of aluminum, faster silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and silicon germanium transistors, and improved low-k dielectric insulation between chip wires. These and other innovations have contributed to IBM's standing as the number one U.S. patent holder for nine consecutive years. More information about IBM Microelectronics can be found at:

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