IBM unveils the world’s smallest computer

At IBM’s inaugural THINK conference which took place in Las Vegas USA on Monday, IBM unveiled what it described as the world’s smallest computer which is the size of a grain of salt. This computer which has the same computing power as Intel’s X86 chip from the 90s is intended for logistics applications.

IBM says the computer is expected to cost less than $0.10 to manufacture and they’ll start mass producing it in a few years time. The chip can monitor, analyze, communicate and act on data.

According to Fortune website, the device is a type of  ‘crypto-anchors’ that can be embedded in everyday items in order to verify their provenance and contents. The idea is to use these methods to link things to their records, which are stored on a blockchain.

“They’ll be used in tandem with blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to ensure an object’s authenticity from its point of origin to when it reaches the hands of the customer,” the company says.

This makes the technology very useful in Global supply chain management, where counterfeiting and provenance are serious concerns. (The diamond industry has been an enthusiastic early adopter).

“These crypto-anchor technologies pave the way for new solutions that tackle food safety, the authenticity of manufactured components, genetically modified products, identification of counterfeit objects and provenance of luxury goods,”  IBM research chief, Arvind Krishna said in a blog post.

This small computer would also be beneficial to Africa which is also faced with supply chain management issues; counterfeiting and tackling of food safety. Diamond producing countries such as South Africa and Botswana could also adopt these computers in their diamond industry.

The computer also contains about one million transistors, a small amount of static random access memory, a light-emitting diode (LED), an integrated photovoltaic cell for power and photo-detector that allows it to communicate.