IBM Reveals a Computer the Size of a Grain of Salt

Today, IBM will be showing off the world’s smallest computer at its Think 2018 conference. This computer is the size of a grain of salt, contains a million transistors, and only costs .10 to manufacture.

This micro computer is being unveiled as part of IBM’s crypto-anchors initiative, which are digital fingerprints that can be embedded in products such as medicine, cell phones, toys, watches, and even wine to detect counterfeit products. With product fraud costing the global economy $600 billion dollars a year, IBM is hoping crypto-anchors can help stem the tide of fraudulent products and counterfeit drugs.

While cryptoanchors can take the form of edible ink on a pill, mobile sensors, or RFID tags, this micro computer can be used for more dynamic detections. The computer only costs 10 cents to manufacture, consists of 1 million transitors, a built-in processor and SRAM, uplink communication in the form of a LED, and a integrated photovoltaic cell, and a light sensing photo-detector.

According to Arvind Krishna, Head of IBMResearch, within the next 5 years we will see crypto-anchors paving the way in producing solutions that tackle the identification of counterfeit goods and to track the authenticity of a product as it leaves the manufacturer and arrives in the hands of the customer.

Within the next five years, cryptographic anchors — such as ink dots or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt — will be embedded in everyday objects and devices. 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.