Multi-chip design and not miniaturization of manufacturing technology will now govern the evolution of processors

With a pompous name, the Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) alliance is a new organization in which the major players in the semiconductor industry have already announced their participation.

Abandoning the strategy of developing the most complex monolithic chips possible and then capitalizing on the most efficient manufacturing nodes, microprocessor manufacturers will now use chiplet-type solutions, putting more silicon chips in the package of the same processor. Not exactly new, the technology has already been perfected by manufacturers of DRAM and NAND memory, which overlap or paste high-performance memory with high-performance microprocessors, such as smartphone chipsets and GPUs for top graphics accelerators.

Signatories of the new alliance, set to set a clear direction for the development of future generations of processors, include giants Intel and Samsung, semiconductor maker TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.), AMD, Arm, Google, Meta, Microsoft and Qualcomm. Thus, the version of the manufacturing technology will be less and less important, counting instead other innovations such as the presence of chipsets with new and innovative technologies, which together will contribute to achieving a level of performance too expensive or even impossible to obtained by traditional methods.

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For example, in recent decades, PC processors have consisted of virtually a single silicon chip that integrates virtually all logic resources. Although the actual processing was done only on a fraction of the surface of the chip, the complexity of the overall design eventually led to the cost of manufacturing at a difficult level to sustain, with the growing chips becoming more and more inefficient. Intel was the first to hit this wall, launching processors that consume and cost too much, paving the way for AMD, which successfully launched the Ryzen family of processors, the first commercial solutions that exploited the organization on chipsets. , as a more effective alternative to monolithic design.

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A few years later, the whole industry seems to have come to the same conclusion, with the Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express alliance paving the way again, enabling the standardization and opening of many of the technologies that make it possible to develop chipsets. members of the alliance to gain, either by reducing costs or, ideally, by accelerating progress on performance and efficiency.

“We expect the new UCI consortium to promote a vibrant chiplet ecosystem,” said Cheolmin Park, a vice president of Samsung Electronics’ memory division, praising the new alliance’s success.

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