Glass Substrates: The Next Breakthrough for Massive Multi-Chiplet Processors
As the demand for computational power continues to grow, processors are becoming larger and more powerful. However, there are limits to how much can be packed into a single silicon chip. It’s not just about what goes into the chip, but also about what it’s mounted on – the substrate. Traditionally, substrates have been made from organic materials or ceramics, but as chiplet-based processors require more bandwidth and power, these materials may no longer be sufficient.
That’s why Intel believes that the next breakthrough in substrate technology lies in glass. Glass substrates offer numerous advantages such as higher interconnect density, faster input-output (IO) speeds, improved power efficiency, and larger package sizes. They are also flatter and more thermally stable compared to traditional substrates. In fact, Intel claims that it’s possible to fit 50% more chips on a glass substrate than on an organic substrate of the same size.
Intel has been working on glass substrates for about a decade and has already developed a test chip. However, mass production is still a long way off. The glass must meet specific requirements for thermal, electrical, and mechanical properties, and the formula for making the glass is still being refined. While Intel anticipates using glass substrates in AI, datacenter, and graphics chips in the near future, the company also sees the potential for using them in all types of chips eventually.
Intel is not the only company exploring glass substrate production. Dai Nippon Printing has also recognized the benefits of using glass for semiconductors. Although it may take some time before glass substrates are widely available, there is a good chance that they will eventually reach the market.
In conclusion, glass substrates offer significant advantages for the development of massive multi-chiplet processors. Their improved design rules, higher chip density, and enhanced performance make them an attractive option for future data centers, AI products, and graphics chips. While it may take some time to perfect the glass composition and manufacturing process, the potential impact of glass substrates on the semiconductor industry is promising.