NEC Corp said it developed the world's smallest transistor, which could allow chips powerful enough to build a supercomputer the size of a personal computer.
NEC's design is one-eighteenth the size of current transistors, Mitsumasa Fukumoto, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company said, confirming an earlier report by the Asahi newspaper.
Transistors are electronic circuits that form the basic building block for most semiconductors, a market worth US$155 billion last year. Gaining some of that revenue with the new transistor is still some ways off for NEC, said John Yang, an analyst at Standard & Poor's in Tokyo.
"The development itself is impressive, but the real challenge for NEC is building an effective business model," Yang said.
"Japanese companies are not good at putting technological developments into some marketable form."
NEC was awarded the fourth-highest number of patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office last year as it sought to gain a competitive advantage. IBM Corp led with 3,288 patents, edging second-place Canon Inc. Micron Technology Inc, the world's second-largest maker of memory chips, finished third.
Armonk New York-based IBM produces processors such as the PowerPC chip used in Apple Inc's computers. Santa Clara, California-based Intel Corp, the world's biggest maker of computer chips, had semiconductor sales of US$22.3 billion last year.
NEC was to introduce the transistor at an international convention that was set to begin yesterday in the US, Fukumoto said.
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