IBM has produced the first 22nm static RAM (SRAM) memory cells.
The cells are the first to be built using the 22nm process, leapfrogging the current generation of 32nm products.
SRAM chips are faster and more complex than dynamic RAM chips, and are often used as memory buffers for peripheral and storage devices.
IBM believes that the smaller SRAM chips represent the first step towards developing a 22nm processor, allowing for faster and denser chips that require less power.
"This new development is a critical achievement in the pursuit to continually drive miniaturisation in microelectronics," said Dr T C Chen, vice president of science and technology at IBM Research.
"We are working at the ultimate edge of what is possible, progressing towards advanced next-generation semiconductor technologies."
The race to build chips on smaller fabrication processes is becoming the next frontier in the ongoing chip wars.
Intel has held the lead in recent years, releasing the first 45nm processor and 32nm SRAM chip while the partnership of IBM and AMD lagged behind.
As SRAM chips are commonly seen as the predecessors to microprocessors, the announcement could be a much-needed win for the IBM/AMD camp.
Intel is expected to provide further details on its 32nm processors later this week at IDF in San Francisco.
The Intel chip could be released in 2009, a full year ahead of the target date for IBM and AMD's 32nm processors.
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