Subscribe to Money Morning get daily headlines subscribe now! Money Morning Private Briefing today's private briefing Access Your Profit Alerts

3D Chips Will Deliver an Era of Radical Change

Forget about the "Tablet Wars." That's yesterday's news.

The same thing goes for the long-predicted "Death of the PC."

You see, the mainstream media has unleashed a torrent of technology predictions for 2012. They're all a mile wide and an inch deep.

No one seems to get the big picture.

The single most important computing trend that will unfold this year is getting almost no buzz. And yet…

This is the year when the technology sector will enter a whole new dimension. It's called 3D computing.

Make No Mistake About it… This is Huge

Now, I'm not talking about wearing funny glasses while you watch TV.

This is the year Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) plans to hit the market with 3D chips.

This doesn't just put the storied Silicon Valley leader ahead of its competition; it also symbolizes the breakthroughs that will drive the "Era of Radical Change."

Fasten your seat belts folks. As I discussed yesterday, the world is speeding up.

As you are no doubt aware, all manner of computers keep getting smaller – and faster. Like clockwork, chips pack twice as much punch every two years.

Radical Change
Take a look at a cell phone from the early 1990s. You couldn't make a decent call on one and it was nearly as big as a brick.

Today, a smart phone fits in the palm of your hand. It surfs the Web, plays video, and can even pilot an unmanned drone half a world away.

Smaller, Faster, More Powerful than Ever

It's all because of Moore's Law. An Intel co-founder, Gordon Moore predicted that every two years computing power would double. Moore realized high-tech engineers would keep finding new ways to make transistors smaller.

But let's not resort to geek speak. Just remember that the size of all electronics is governed by how many of these little devices we can put on a single chip.

Just like loading up your wallet, when it comes to chips more is better – much better.

Except that every few years the "experts" warn us that we're about to hit a brick wall and our electronics just can't get any smaller.

That's because in the past we could only put all of this key information on a flat surface. At some point you just run out of real estate − unless you can go vertical.

3D Chips Yield Exponential Results

That's where 3D chips come in.

If you can stack a bunch of these tiny transistors on top of each other you can get more output from the same chip.

It's like owning a parking lot and suddenly waking up to see it's now a three-story garage.

Intel says it expects to make chips that run as much as 37% faster. That's a huge increase in speed.

Using Moore's Law, we can predict those same chips will be 148% faster in just four years. That's the power of exponential increases in technology.

Let's face it. If your portfolio showed those kinds of gains you would hardly brush them off.

And yet… naysayers abound.

As reported in The New York Times, industry skeptics believe Intel is sinking billions into unproven technology.

Moreover, the skeptics say the new chips will be too power-hungry to work well in smart phones and tablet computers.

But they are missing the point. If Intel doesn't solve the power problem, someone else will.

I predict 3D computing will become standard throughout the computer industry by the end of this decade.

I also believe that 3D processor technology will find its way into mobile devices and thousands of other products as well.

After all, not long from now we will see billions of digital machines communicating with each other wirelessly. We'll even be wearing computers in the form of smart fabrics, contact lenses and eyeglasses that double as Internet projectors.

In fact, just to keep up with the dizzying pace of innovation in the Era of Radical Change, computers will have to get faster.

You know what that means. Chips will have to go vertical. No question about it.

IBM's Secret Sauce

As it turns out, Intel isn't the only mega-cap tech leader pushing the 3D boundary.

In fact, an alliance between International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and 3M Company (NYSE: MMM) could result in chips that someday run 1,000 times faster.

The two tech giants are currently working on a breakthrough way of stacking standard processor chips on top of each other. It's called "3D packaging," and it's sort of like building a 10-story high-rise so small you can't see it with the naked eye.

IBM's secret sauce?

It's a unique silicon glue that holds the stack of chips together.

Big Blue hopes to release the first versions of these chip stacks sometime next year.

So far we've only focused on chips that process information.

Turns out several companies are improving the capacity of memory chips by stacking them on top of each other.

This is crucial in a world filled with broadband data. Memory chips provide temporary data storage and can improve a computer's performance.

Look for Micron Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MU), Samsung Electronics (PINK: SSNLF) and Toshiba Corp. (PINK: TOSBF) to start showing progress on this front later this year.

Still, if our recent experience is any guide, the mainstream media will just gloss over these breakthroughs as well. (They will gloss over this one too − another of my finds that will rock the markets in the near future.)

It will be their loss when they do, since I'm certain to find plenty of good investment opportunities that will take advantage of 3D computing.

So stay tuned. The Era of Radical Change is here.

News and Related Story Links:

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

About the Author

Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.

Read full bio

  1. Shayam Dash | January 12, 2012

    Surely , Mr. softies will adopt the pc model to the 3D concept. Afer all the basic principle of the good old
    trasistor device is still the same.The challenge is who ever come up with super sub miniturization of building the system with highest RELIABILITY , simplicity ,and COST to the consummer.

  2. jorge silva | January 12, 2012

    Would love to invest in the 3D chips , great idea.

  3. David R Truitt | January 12, 2012


  4. John Gowers | January 12, 2012

    This is not new and in fact the only way it could go. In the days of single packaged transistors, PCB's were printed in multi layers (3D) as they became more complex. When "chips" were introduced they too became multi layered, eventually. Multi layered memory and processors was an inevitable development.

  5. Clay Brazwell | January 12, 2012

    Thanx so much for this enlightenment. Imissed the first high tech opportunity and I don't intend to loose this next opportunity. Might it be a good time to invest in Intel?


    Clay Brazwell

  6. David C. | January 12, 2012

    Beware! The competition will be furious and deadly. A roll of the dice
    will determine which stock will rise and which will fall. This is a repeat
    of a historical precedence that has made the uninitiated either wealthy
    or poor. So, be very careful where you invest the money you are
    willing to lose as it will be a big gamble a la Las Vegas where the house
    always wins. Good luck!

  7. David English | January 12, 2012

    Hello Michael, There is a very small company on the OTCBB: IRSN. This company invented the chip stacking technology years ago and it never really paid off for them. I've been following them for years because of their patent portfolio. I have no investment in them right now; Really…Take a look at them and let me know what you think. Sincerely, David English

  8. Andrew Boyle | January 12, 2012

    Great advice. Already seeing profits during a tough time in the market. Thank you – sincerely thank you.

  9. JOHNNY GONZALEZ | January 12, 2012

    Which company would be your best bet ?

  10. Tom | January 12, 2012

    Seems to me you could make some money buying the large chip making companies lis TSM & QCOM. The are both in Taiwan with cheaper labor & larger production facilities than here in the states.

  11. timothy watts | January 13, 2012

    This on the surface sounds to be a great
    amount of forward thinking. I am also very
    Interested in this outlook into the future.
    Thank you for making it available to
    people such as myself . Keep up the
    foresight info. It is greatly appreciated .
    t. timw970"

  12. Stephen | January 13, 2012

    I would also invest in 3d chips or companies that make them.

  13. RICHARD SKELLY | January 15, 2012



  14. Capt Richie | January 16, 2012

    The article really doesn't say but I suspect that the chip would function both horizontally and vertically. Seems like we're approaching the miracle of the human brain more and more.

  15. Roland | March 14, 2012

    Story is both right and wrong. This is already being done. Example: RaspberryPi has stacked cpu/memory chips. But it only works with low power/low heat chips. Heat dissipation is the limiting factor. Intel definitely doesn't qualify.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some HTML is OK