Originally created 08/04/98

Faster computer chips on the way



NEW YORK -- International Business Machines Corp., seeking to speed up computers and let mobile phone batteries last longer, announced today it has perfected a way of making microprocessor chips that can boost their performance by more than a third.

The computer giant, based in Somers, N.Y., said today the process allows it to make chips with a special insulation layer between each transistor and the chips' silicon base, reducing electrical interference that saps energy and performance.

While other companies also have been working on the so-called "silicon-on-insulator" technology, IBM said it would be the first to commercially introduce it.

Using the new technology, a computer microprocessor designed to run at 400 megahertz could run at more than 500 MHz.

IBM also said the new chips would use one-third less electricity than today's microprocessors, extending battery life for portable devices such as cellular phones and hand-held computers.

The new chips were first made in a test program at IBM's East Fishkill, N.Y., factory, and by next summer will also be made at its Burlington, Vt., plant. The chips will be used in IBM's own computers as well as chips it sells to other companies.