On 12th December 2018, at the Architecture Day, Intel demonstrated its new 3D packaging technology, called Foveros, which allows it to stack logic chips atop one another.
The chip giant's big goal for late 2019 is to offer products built on what it calls Foveros 3D stacking: an industry-first implementation of stacked processing components inside a chip. Intel is doing something with the CPU, allowing its designers to essentially drop in extra processing muscle atop an already assembled chip die.
It will combine 10nm compute-stacked chiplets with a low-power 22FFL base die. Other than increasing performance and power efficiency, it will include features to accelerate special purpose computing tasks like AI and cryptography.
Intel introduced a handful of other iterative advances Wednesday, including its new "Sunny Cove" CPU microarchitecture and Gen11 integrated graphics.
Intel suggests it will do something it calls 2D stacking, which is a separation of the various processor components into smaller chiplets, each of which can be manufactured using a different production node.
Various methods of going vertical have boosted memory chips recently, but after years of research, Intel will be the first to bring 3D stacking to CPU, graphics, and AI processors at scale.
It's simply saving space, although that’s certainly a big part of it. It also allows you to customize combinations of silicon to your specific needs.
The new architecture allows manufacturers to swap in whatever transistors best suit their needs, countless devices could become much more efficient by virtue of the stack.
Raja Koduri, Intel’s chief architect, says, “You can pack more transistors in a given space. And also you can pack different kinds of transistors; if you want to put a 5G radio right on top of a CPU, solving the stacking problem would be great, because you have all of your functionality but also a small form factor.”
Industries have already glommed onto the benefits of mixing and matching transistors, investing in “chiplets” that can be used almost like microscopic interlocking puzzle pieces.
“It helps with those complex form factors, like foldable, bendable, lightweight things. It’s changing the concept of the architecture,” says Maribel Lopez, founder of Lopez Research, a technology research firm.
Intel says consumer products with Foveros inside will start shipping within the next 12 to 18 months.
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