IBM Method May Boost Chip Speed

IBM plans to announce today a new manufacturing method for microprocessor circuitry that could boost the speed of many processors by as much as 30%. The method uses a material called "low-k dielectric," which improves the shielding of the millions of circuits in a microchip, reducing harmful electrical "crosstalk," or interference caused by the chip wiring. Users will notice the improvement in "much faster data processing and transaction processing on the Internet" as the technology is implemented in Internet servers and other devices, beginning in about a year, said Bijan Davari, IBM's vice president for semiconductor research. The technology will also enable "very capable devices, such as with speech recognition, in hand-held sizes," he predicted. Keith Diefendorff, an analyst with Cahners MicroDesign Resources called the event significant. "But in a way, it's something that has to be done." IBM looks to be six to 12 months ahead of other chip makers working on low-k dielectric materials, he said. On Friday, shares fell $4.38 to close at $118.38 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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