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Intel stated it has made a big breakthrough within the growth of glass substrates for next-generation superior packaging in an try to remain on the previous of Moore’s Regulation.

The large chip maker stated this milestone achievement is ready to redefine the boundaries of transistor scaling, enabling the conclusion of data-centric functions and propelling the development of Moore’s Regulation, which predicts that the variety of transistors on a chip will double each couple of years. Intel stated it ought to be capable of make the leap to glass substrates by the tip of the last decade. The corporate made the announcement forward of its Intel Innovation 2023 convention in San Jose, California this week.

Chip expertise has superior far over the previous six many years because of this doubling impact. In 1971, Intel’s first microprocessor had 2,300 transistors. Now the corporate’s flagship chips have greater than 100 billion transistors. However a lot of that doubling got here from miniaturizing the width between chip circuits. That form of advance has slowed down, as chips layers are actually on the atomic degree.


So Intel has been on the hunt for different methods to maintain chip expertise on the Moore’s Regulation treadmill. And it has discovered, oddly sufficient, a approach ahead by creating larger and greater chip packages, quite than smaller and smaller ones.


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Glass allows Intel to create a 50% bigger chip space inside a package deal in order that Intel can match extra chips right into a single electrical package deal.

By the tip of the last decade, Intel foresees 30 trillion transistors might be packaged on a glass substrate with different improvements akin to 3D stacking of chips, stated Rahul Manepalli, an Intel Fellow and director of substrate module engineering, in a press briefing.

“We’re taking the wraps off our glass core substrate expertise, the place we see glass core substrate brings continued characteristic scaling,” he stated. “It permits us to do issues that an natural package deal can’t do. It permits us to enhance the ability supply to those energy hungry, AI-centric, data-centric chips. It allows us to do excessive velocity I/O signaling that’s not attainable in natural packages, particularly as you get to those switches with very excessive frequency at very low loss wants.”

Manepalli stated it allows excessive manufacturing yields and low prices. The glass substrates might be yet one more choice for sooner and higher connectivity alongside the opposite enhancements like 3D packaging.

Chip packaging historical past

Intel has been prototyping glass substrate tech for a decade or extra.

From the Nineteen Seventies to Nineties, early microprocessors used lead body wire packages. Then the {industry} made a transition to ceramic pins for packages. Then got here natural flip-chip ball-grid arrays (BGAs). The lead-free and halogen-free options got here within the early 2000s. Now Intel is making an attempt to pack extra chips in a single package deal. However there are limits to the natural packaging expertise.

Now the chip packages are getting larger and greater, and AI is driving demand for extra efficiency.

“We’re at an inflection level,” he stated. “We see glass core substrates allow vital enhancements to each electrical and mechanical properties. We’ve proven by way of a few of our inner research that we are able to really rise up to 10 occasions or extra by way of complete density in a glass core in comparison with an natural core.”

Intel has been pulling plenty of methods currently to enhance interconnections between chips. It’s placing a number of chips right into a single digital package deal. Manepalli that Intel has been delivery its present multi-die interconnect expertise since 2017.

The corporate has been scaling that from 55 micron die pitch in its factories to 45 microns and 36 microns. Intel has additionally been stacking with its 2.5D expertise since 2019, and it’s implementing its 3D chip stacking expertise Foveros for chip packages as properly.

Benefits of glass substrates

Intel is making glass substrates for its chips by the tip of 2030.

Immediately’s chips sit on substrates that join them to a bigger circuit board, often known as a motherboard. Copper interconnects are normally used to electrically join a chip to the motherboard. However Intel has discovered a approach to do it sooner with glass.

For the previous decade, Intel has been doing analysis on glass. And prior to now 3.5 years, the corporate has executed accelerated “pathfinding” to deliver a product to life. And it has built-in that effort with an R&D manufacturing facility line in Chandler, Arizona, fueled by a billion-dollar funding in glass processing. Intel has been working carefully with semiconductor tools, supplies and chemistry companions. Manepalli stated Intel has over 600 innovations within the space associated to substrates and glass expertise.

“We’re excited to take the wraps off of it and convey this to you and open this up for everybody to return and collaborate with us within the area,” Manepalli stated.

In comparison with typical natural substrates, glass substrates supply a myriad of benefits, together with ultra-low flatness, enhanced thermal and mechanical stability, and considerably increased interconnect density. These distinctive properties empower chip architects to create high-density, high-performance chip packages particularly designed for data-intensive workloads, akin to synthetic intelligence (AI).

Glass substrates supply quite a few advantages, together with the power to resist increased temperatures, 50% much less sample distortion, ultra-low flatness for improved depth of focus throughout lithography, and distinctive dimensional stability, enabling tight layer-to-layer interconnect overlay. These distinctive properties enable for a tenfold enhance in interconnect density on glass substrates. Moreover, the improved mechanical properties of glass allow the creation of ultra-large form-factor packages with excessive meeting yields.

Intel stated it’s on observe to introduce complete glass substrate options to the market within the latter half of this decade, guaranteeing the continuation of Moore’s Regulation properly past 2030.

Approaching the boundaries

Intel’s glass man Hamid Azimi.

Because the demand for extra highly effective computing will increase and the semiconductor {industry} strikes into the heterogeneous period that makes use of a number of “chiplets” in a package deal, enhancements in signaling velocity, energy supply, design guidelines and stability of package deal substrates might be important.

The semiconductor {industry} is approaching the boundaries of transistor scaling on silicon packages utilizing natural supplies. These supplies are suffering from limitations akin to elevated energy consumption, shrinkage, and warping.

Consequently, scaling transistors is turning into more and more difficult. Glass substrates current a viable and indispensable answer for the following technology of semiconductors, propelling the {industry} ahead.

Glass substrates possess superior mechanical, bodily, and optical properties, making them important for bettering signaling velocity, energy supply, design guidelines, and substrate stability.

Intel is making some massive adjustments in the best way it manufactures chips in multibillion-dollar factories.

These properties allow the connection of extra transistors inside a package deal, facilitating higher scaling and permitting for the meeting of bigger chiplet complexes, often known as “system-in-package,” in comparison with current natural substrates. Chip architects can now obtain increased efficiency and density beneficial properties inside a smaller footprint, offering larger flexibility, decrease total value, and lowered energy consumption.

The preliminary functions for glass substrates will give attention to areas the place their benefits could be maximized, akin to knowledge facilities, AI, and graphics-intensive workloads that require bigger type issue packages and better velocity capabilities, Intel stated.

The tolerance of glass substrates to increased temperatures offers chip architects with flexibility in defining design guidelines for energy supply and sign routing. This flexibility allows the seamless integration of optical interconnects and the incorporation of inductors and capacitors into the glass throughout high-temperature processing.

On account of these distinctive properties, a ten occasions enhance in interconnect density is feasible on glass substrates. Additional, improved mechanical properties of glass allow ultra-large form-factor packages with very excessive meeting yields. That may deliver the {industry} nearer to the objective of scaling a trillion transistors on a package deal by 2030.

Intel has devoted over a decade to researching and evaluating the reliability of glass substrates as a substitute for natural substrates. The corporate has a wealthy historical past of driving developments in packaging expertise, together with main the {industry}’s transition from ceramic to natural packages and pioneering halogen and lead-free packages.

Intel’s experience in superior embedded die packaging applied sciences and energetic 3D stacking has fostered a complete ecosystem of kit, chemical, and supplies suppliers, in addition to substrate producers.

The long run

A prototype chip with a glass substrate.

Trying forward, Intel’s industry-leading glass substrates for superior packaging, coupled with current breakthroughs in PowerVia and RibbonFET applied sciences, exhibit the corporate’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of compute expertise past the Intel 18A course of node. Intel is steadfast in its pursuit of attaining 1 trillion transistors in a package deal by 2030, and its ongoing innovation in superior packaging, together with glass substrates, will play a pivotal position in realizing this formidable objective.

In abstract, he stated glass gives increased temperature tolerances and larger interconnect density in consequence. Glass substrates have ultra-low flatness, which leads to higher picture seize. Intel can create finer threads by way of the ten occasions higher interconnect density and drop these interconnects from the underside of the package deal to a different chip. Design flexibility and energy supply and sign routing turns into simpler. Glass may join extra simply with optical tools.

Intel will know extra in regards to the prices within the second half of the last decade, however Manepalli stated the corporate expects that it’ll have fewer layers on every chip and decrease prices in consequence. Not all the issues have been solved but, he stated, however Intel feels assured will probably be capable of overcome the challenges.

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