We did it by way of exploring the limits of silicon-germanium chips (Silicon-germanium is much better for performance and power consumption than traditional silicon.).
Specifically, we put those suckers in the deep freeze, in a manner of speaking. By cryogenically "freezing" the chip to 451 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (4.5 Kelvins, in case you were counting), we were able to push the limits of silicon-germanium chips.
(Brief Sidebar: Just so we're clear, the "we" does not include me -- I'm talking about researchers from IBM and the Georgia Institute of Technology. I'm sure I'd look all official and cool in a lab coat and all, but at the sub-zero temps we're talking about, I'd probably just end up getting my tongue stuck to the liquid nitrogen tank and...well, it just wouldn't be pretty, that's all I'm sayin'.)
This new technology is a major step forward in semiconductors that could lead to "more faster" computing and soon.
Such low temperatures are only found naturally in outer space (although after seeing Al Gore's new movie about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," last night, we may need to see if we can't put some of that freeze on the polar ice caps fast!)
When we turned up the thermostat a bit (to room temperature), the chip still performed at around 350 billion cycles per second, about 250X faster than that Treo lodged against your hip.
As our press release noted, such ultra-high-frequency silicon-germanium circuits have potential applications in commercial communications systems, defense electronics, space exploration, and remote sensing.
Ultimately, "achieving such extreme speeds in silicon-based technology which can be manufactured using conventional low-cost techniques could provide a pathway to high-volume applications."
I'd like to go ahead and put my order in for one now, if that's okay. They have never made a computer fast enough for my needs, and I'm not sure they ever will. (Hey, they didn't give me the nickname "Turbo" for nothing).
And if I have to wear one of those funky white clean room suits in order to get a jump on the rest of the world, that's cool. But know that I draw a line at dancin' in the streets in TV commercials.
The rest of you will just have to chill and wait...developments such as this typically find their way into commercial products at IBM in one to two years.