Worlds smallest computer – Smaller than grain of Salt

IBM in its much awaited Think 2018 has unveiled what it claims to be “worlds smallest computer“. Its smaller than the size of grain of salt. According to IBM Research inventions and technologies, its one of the things “that could change our lives in the next five years.”

The computer is 1mm x 1mm, smaller than a grain of fancy salt, and apparently costs less than ten cents to manufacture. To be clear, the picture above is a set of 64 motherboards, each of which hold two of this tiny computer. Here’s an actual photo of a solo computer on a pile of salt for scale:

Left: 64 motherboards. Right: Single tiny computer, mounted to a motherboard, on pile of salt grain
Left: 64 motherboards. Right: Single tiny computer, mounted to a motherboard, on pile of salt grain

This computer has a processor with “several hundred thousand” transistors, SRAM memory, a photo-voltaic cell for power, and a communications unit that uses an LED and a photo-detector to talk with the outside world. IBM claims it has the computing power of the x86 chip from 1990, and it has enough power to run original Doom on it without any external sources required(the original README.TXT for Doom says a 386 processor and 4MB of RAM is the minimum).

According to IBM this is just the beginning and in coming years they are going to embed it with all every day items to help track counterfeits using Crypto Anchors – such as ink dots or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt. It is like ink dots and can be practically embedded with any items like medicines, clothes, daily wears, staples etc. We will see way more of these tiny systems in objects and devices in the years to come.

Crypto anchors along with Blockchain will help track down counterfeits. Within the next five years, cryptographic anchors and blockchain technology will ensure a product’s authenticity — from its point of origin to the hands of the customer.



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