IBM says it has developed the world's smallest computer – one that is smaller than a grain of salt. Announced at the company's Think 2018 technology event, the IBM-designed edge device architecture and computing platform is a system-on-chip (SoC) with a processor, SRAM, storage, a communication module, and a photovoltaic cell for power. The micro-computer's processor comprises several hundred thousand transistors and is said to have a performance on par with an x86 CPU from 1990.

According to IBM, the device will cost less than ten cents to manufacture and can monitor, analyze, communicate, and even act on data. Within the next five years, the company says, such micro-computers will be embedded in everyday objects and devices as "cryptographic anchors" that - in tandem with blockchain's distributed ledger technology – will be used to help track and verify the authenticity of goods.

Currently the device is still a research project, and one of IBM Research's 2018 " 5 in 5 " technology predictions – five technologies that the company believes will "fundamentally reshape business and society" in the next five years. Looking ahead, the company sees it as paving the way for new solutions that tackle food safety, authenticity of manufactured components, genetically modified products, identification of counterfeit objects, and provenance of luxury goods.

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