IBM Delivers World's First Copper Chips

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FISHKILL, N.Y - 01 Sep 1998: ..IBM today announced the shipment of the world's first copper-based microprocessors, including a PowerPC 740/750 operating at 400MHz. The company also announced several other initiatives associated with copper, including availability of the fastest embedded processor on the market, a 400 MHz embedded PowerPC chip.

IBM also announced it will incorporate copper into its S/390, RS/6000 and AS/400 server families, with prototypes planned for 1998 and production systems planned for 1999. In addition, the company stated it will immediately broaden the use of copper in the marketplace by building copper chips for other companies through its standard foundry services. This leadership CMOS 7SF technology at industry standard .18 microns is planned for prototypes in the first quarter of 1999 and for production in the second half of 1999.

IBM's copper chip technology is being used to enhance chip performance, while reducing die size and power consumption. IBM is the first chip maker to introduce copper-based microprocessors and embedded processors for use in an assortment of electronic products, from computers to consumer appliances.

The new 400MHz microprocessors, the fastest PowerPC products on the market, are available in versions for both desktop and mobile computing and are being incorporated into a variety of consumer and business products. The attributes of copper increase the versatility of the PowerPC 740/750 and will continue to provide significant performance improvements in the future.

Today's announcement illustrates the advantages IBM's copper technology can bring to customers. The PowerPC 750 was created as a standard aluminum design operating at up to 300 MHz. By applying IBM's copper manufacturing process to what is essentially the same chip, the company can now produce semiconductors featuring speeds of at least 400MHz -- a 33 percent speed improvement for the same chip.

"This represents a milestone in the evolution of semiconductor manufacturing process technology and underscores our commitment to the PowerPC architecture ," said John Gleason, general manager of worldwide sales and marketing, IBM Microelectronics. "By combining leading process technology like copper with a powerful, flexible architecture, we're able to offer electronics designers a new range of options, such as single-function processors for embedded applications, which are becoming pervasive in a range of products, including those that tie to the Internet and the networked world."

The suitability of the PowerPC 740/750 400MHz for embedded processor applications underscores how IBM's extensive high-end design and manufacturing capabilities are driving the company's success in embedded PowerPC business. The PowerPC architecture is closely linked to IBM's strategic focus on the custom logic business. The chip's smaller die size and lower power requirements achieved through IBM's copper technology allow the company to immediately offer PowerPC for embedded applications.

"IBM's ability to leverage its advanced process technology is fueling an explosive, 50 percent growth rate in embedded PowerPC applications," said Ron Tessitore, director, microcontroller development, IBM Microelectronics. "By exploiting advances in IBM's process technology, such as copper, we plan to continue to gain share in the embedded market with PowerPC."

Embedded products are ideally suited for applications such as wired communications, printers, storage systems and numerous consumer electronics products -- such as digital cameras, cellular phones and digital set top boxes.

Offering significantly higher clock speeds, lower power consumption and smaller die sizes than their aluminum-based predecessors, these products can be incorporated into current PowerPC740/750-based designs without significant modification. This allows electronics manufacturers to readily increase both the speed and breadth of their end products without costly design changes.

Aluminum has long been the standard material used for semiconductor wiring. While copper was recognized as a superior conductor of electricity than aluminum, until now it has been more difficult to adapt to semiconductor manufacturing. IBM announced in September of 1997 that it had adapted copper for volume manufacturing. Now, less than a year later, IBM is putting that technology into production.

The newly announced PowerPC 750 up to and including 400MHz for desktop and mobile computing and embedded applications is currently available. The newly announced PowerPC 740 up to and including 400MHz for embedded applications will be available in the first quarter of 1999. For pricing and availability, contact a local IBM sales representative.

For more information on these and other products, visit the IBM Microelectronics web site at

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