IBM has just made public what the firm terms as the world’s smallest computer – the size of a grain of rice. The manufacturing cost of the computer is estimated to be less than $0.10 and is mainly meant for logistics applications.
Typically, whenever you want a powerful computer, you must be willing to accept their large sizes. But that’s set to change, owing to the new direction IBM is taking us.
As technology continues to advance, the company may have just given us a glimpse into what the future holds for computer technology. It is worth noting that IBM is the pioneer of the first personal computer that debuted in 1981.
IBM Think 2018
On the first day of its flagship conference IBM Think 2018, the firm got the Internet intrigued by its unveiling of the small computer. Indeed, they aren’t kidding for this is truly the world’s smallest computer. It is far much smaller because the transistor size has been minimized beyond the normal.
But do not be fooled by the size. The device’s computing power equals that of the X 86 Chips from 1990. Well, that may not be as powerful as what we currently have, the Intel Core I-series, but it’s worth appreciating given that you need a microscope to see it!
The computer’s price is less than 10 cents and comes packed with “hundred thousand transistors,” as explained by IBM. This way, the world’s smallest computer is able to analyze, monitor and communicate data, in addition to acting on it.
The Computer and Bitcoin
To mine bitcoin, one requires super powerful computers. Therefore, the Bitcoin guys may have already given up on the world’s smallest computer despite its minute size. But before you do all that, remember that it works perfectly well with blockchain.
To be more specific, the computer will be a source of data for blockchain applications. Its main goal is to assist in detecting fraud, theft and non-compliance as it tracks the shipment of goods. It should also be able to carry out some Artificial Intelligence tasks such as sorting data.
According to IBM, we are only at the early stages of the world’s smallest computer. The company’s head of research, Arvind Krishna, estimates five years down the line, “cryptographic anchors including ink dots or minute machines – whose size cannot be compared to a grain of salt – will be the basic components in devices and objects.”
What Constitutes the World’s Smallest Computer?
The microscopic “crypto-anchor”, the smallest computer in the world, features storage, memory, and processor and the communication module, in addition to being an anti-fraud device.
Its design is in such a manner that it can be seamlessly embedded in tracking, packaging, and logging moving goods as a security feature.
Countless transistors are packed in a footprint that the human eye can barely see. These would be used in verifying whether a product was properly handled during its shipping. Works well with products that are being shipped over long distances, in most cases from continent to another.
The units are still prototypic and once rolled out, they will be used in authenticating products purchased online. These include products such as pharmaceuticals, foods, and luxury goods, guaranteeing that no tampering took place during shipping.
“They will be integrated into the blockchain technology to see to it that authenticity is maintained right from the origin point until it reaches the customer’s hands,” explained Arvind Krishna.
The recently unveiled world’s smallest computer is a continuation of IBM computer history. The company has always had the desire to fully turn the computer world on its head. It makes use of several high-tech watermarks that would guarantee the authenticity described above by distinguishing between original and counterfeits.
Besides making computers extra-tiny, IBM is looking forward to reducing the price much lower than any other manufacturer can.
By using the IBM new computer technology, the firm has managed to make the world’s smallest computer of sizes 1mm x 1mm and still maintained the power of a complete computer. At the moment, the research is still at the infancy stage taking place in IBM’s labs. It is yet to be actualized in reality but has been promoted to radically transform computer world in the next five years.
IBM Computer History
As much as IBM’s 1981 launch of the IBM 5150 Personal Computer paved the way for personal computing, IBM had released several other small computers years back. That shows how much determined the company has always been in an attempt to have the world’s smallest computer. The company’s computer history is a true witness to all these efforts.
The SCAMP project of 1973 was one of IBM’s earliest efforts to minimize the computer. This 6-month project resulted in the development of a prototype named Special Computer, APL Machine Portable which was successfully demonstrated in the same year and resulted in the launching of the 5100 Portable Computer. Several efforts were put in place throughout the 1990’s and better, smaller computers got to be developed.
IBM’s personal computing division was sold to Lenovo in 2005, paving the way for advanced creativity in further minimizing the size of the computer. The company has gone ahead to make billions of dollars for services extended to businesses.
In 2011, IBM turned 100 years. The company was able to exceed Microsoft’s market value for the first time in 15 years.
How IBM Manages to Make Computers Smaller
There are basically three different ways through which IBM is able to make computers smaller. One way is to reduce the size of the transistor. The other two is to reduce the number of transistors and integrate software that makes the transistors more efficient.
In the recently released world’s smallest computer, IBM was able to achieve that through the first way – reducing the transistor size. Reducing the number of transistors on chips makes it possible to create smaller chips. That is practical for some applications but impractical for others. When fewer transistors are used, the chips become slower, interfering with functions of the computer.