IBM Developing World’s Tiniest Computer Smaller than a Grain of Salt

At Thank 2018, IBM has announced developing world’s tiniest computer that will cost less than ten cents to manufacture and can monitor, analyze, communicate, and even act on data. 

Think 2018 is IBM’s flagship annual conference that commenced on March 19. At the event, the company introduced its newest, innovative ventures including the first prototype of world’s smaller computer, and without any exaggeration, we can say that the claim is true.

At the first day of the conference, IBM’s head of research Arvind Krishna unveiled five of the most promising tech products from IBM laboratories that are due to be released in the next five years. The range of products is immensely diverse ranging from Blockchain quantum computing to crypto-anchors and lattice cryptography. The company explained that its researchers were trying to figure out sustainable solutions for countering issues like cyber-attacks, product fraud, and dirty water.

The product that has been garnering most attention at the event was the tiny computer. This computer is really very small, even smaller than a grain of salt but very very efficient and fully loaded with the computing power of the 1990s’ popular x86 chip. Now, you must be thinking “what’s the catch here?” since it uses old-school technology. But there is some catch definitely.

This computer costs less than ten cents and contains “several hundred thousand transistors” that allow it to the observer, assess, communicate/share and act on data. It is compatible with blockchain and serves as a key data source for blockchain applications. The computer will be used to track the shipment of goods and instantly detect non-compliance, fraud, and theft along with performing standard AI (artificial intelligence) like sorting the entered data.

When goods are transported from one location to another, multiple supply chain layers are involved which make it difficult to control and prevent tampering and counterfeiting of goods. IBM Research has been working on unclonable crypto-anchors such as ink-dots that will get embedded into any product and create a link with Blockchain. When the products will move from one destination to another, its source will be verified by crypto-anchors and cross-checked with Blockchain data.

Under the IBM 5in5 program, researchers at IBM laboratories are working hard to find a solution to product fraud since it has become world’s biggest digital problem with approximate global losses of $600 billion annually.

IBM claims that this computer will be improved gradually as it is just the start and the computer is in its testing phase. In the next five years, states Krishna, cryptographic anchors like computer smaller than a grain of salt will get embedded into regular use objects and devices. This means we must be prepared for more of these tiny systems to be introduced and replace bigger and heavier computer devices in the near future.

The sudden surge in internet crimes like account hijacking, data breaches and exposure of private information has been causing the world huge losses with annual cyber-crime loss is expected to reach up to $6trillion by 2021. Therefore, IBM believes that it is about time technology superior to the current encryption methods is developed and the role of quantum computing tools like lattice cryptography for protecting personal data is being evaluated by IBM researchers.

Moreover, autonomous AI microscope will also be developed by IBM scientists in the next five years; it will constantly test the quality of water. IBM claims that quantum computing will be extensively explored by a new set of developers and experts and quantum computers will certainly make a critical contribution to solve the current issues as well as revolutionize the operating patterns of the world.

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Uzair Amir

I am an Electronic Engineer, an Android Game Developer and a Tech writer. I am into music, snooker and my life motto is 'Do my best, so that I can't blame myself for anything.'