IBM plans to spend $3 billion over the next five years on research and development for computer chips, both to stretch the limits of conventional semiconductors and to hasten the commercialization of exotic new designs.
The chip program, announced Wednesday, will be among the largest research initiatives at IBM, which spends about $6 billion a year on research and development. “We’re investing to really push the frontiers” of chip technology, said John E. Kelly, senior vice president and director of research at IBM.
The effort, Mr. Kelley said, will have two main goals. The first will be to wring further improvements from current silicon chip technology, by shrinking the tiny circuits from today’s 22 nanometers down to 7 nanometers, a few atoms wide. The second goal is to accelerate progress on novel and promising, if unproved, approaches — designs that employ quantum physics, carbon nanotubes and chips inspired by the brain, called neuromorphic chips.
To step up its chip research, Mr. Kelly said IBM would be hiring more scientists and investing in industry partnerships and academic collaborations.