Electrical Fuse Lets Chips Heal Themselves

IBM engineers turn a fault into a feature

4 min read

The electronic system of the future will monitor itself, change the functions it performs, and repair its damaged circuits--all without external intervention. Such is the dream of autonomic computing. Although the dream is not yet reality, engineers and scientists at IBM Corp. have taken a big step with the development of an on-chip fuse that is electrically blown--or programmed, as the company prefers to call the process--by using a physical effect heretofore considered a serious reliability problem in semiconductor circuits.

According to IBM, combining the new eFuse technology with already available on-chip built-in self-test and -repair circuitry will yield a chip capable of diagnosing its failures and then fixing them by blowing fuses to reroute its circuits. The built-in self-test circuitry determines which parts of the chip do not work and sends the information to the self-repair circuitry, which figures out what fuses to open to replace the failing circuits with spare, redundant ones.

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The Transistor of 2047: Expert Predictions

What will the device be like on its 100th anniversary?

4 min read
Six men and a woman smiling.

The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.


The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

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