IBM has unveiled the world's smallest computer which could revolutionise how goods are tracked and enhance supply chain security.

The 'crypto-anchor' apparently measures just a millimetre squared – smaller than a grain of salt – and includes all the necessary computer components including a processor, memory, storage and communication module.

Projected to cost less than 10 cents to manufacture, it has the same processing power as the x86 chip which ran IBM’s desktop computers in the 1990s and is capable of supporting artificial intelligence programs.

"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," said Arvind Krishna, head of research at IBM.

"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.

"These technologies pave 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."

The prototype was unveiled at the company's Think 2018 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"The world’s smallest computer is an IBM-designed edge device architecture and computing platform that is smaller than a grain of salt will cost less than 10 cents to manufacture and can monitor, analyse, communicate and even act on data," IBM said.

"It packs several hundred thousand transistors into a footprint barely visible to the human eye and can help verify that a product has been handled properly throughout its long journey."

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