Multi-chip systems define the future of semiconductors

Multi-chip systems define the future of semiconductors

Multi-chip systems define the future of semiconductors

However, few business leaders are keeping pace with the latest developments in this field. Multi-die technology remains an enigma for many executives. A recent survey by MIT Technology Review Insights asked business leaders about their knowledge of this design strategy and found that 62% of respondents are either indifferent, unaware or unaware of the capabilities of this technology.

A few chip-dependent industries obviously need to keep a close eye on advances in semiconductor technology: automakers, artificial intelligence companies, large-scale data processing organizations, and smart device makers, for n to name a few. But because advanced semiconductors are the foundation of modern business operations, even executives whose roles don’t directly touch technology should care about chip design trends, including those that will define the industry’s next chapter.

Why Semiconductors Are Important

While the global semiconductor shortage that began in 2020 had its immediate causes in natural disasters and geopolitics, its effects have drawn attention to the fact that almost every industry depends on chips. And pandemic-related ripple effects aside, the silicon status quo has been evolving for some time. New technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), which require increased efficiency and computing performance, have put a strain on traditional systems in recent years.

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), customers also expect intelligence in everything from refrigerators to light bulbs. Innovators react accordingly. Our survey found that nearly a third (31%) of business leaders plan to improve their company’s existing smart products, and nearly another third (29%) intend to add AI/ML features to their products. Only 9% of respondents said they did not produce connected objects or connected objects.

However, this type of technology requires robust edge computing and on-device processing, which requires greater and more efficient hardware performance. To complicate matters, the cloud data centers that power this computing shift are also voracious power consumers. This is another area where traditional silicon stagnates: durability. The cost of producing excess silicon is not only bad for business, it has an impact on the environment. And while there is a continued push towards net-zero carbon emissions within the semiconductor supply chain, the industry is not yet on track to meet the stated emissions standards. in the 2016 United Nations Paris Agreement.

An industry shift towards multi-die design could be part of the solution to these challenges. Instead of a single monolithic chip (“system-on-chip”), multi-chip designs consist of a collection of chips (chiplets or arrays) linked together in a sophisticated package (“chip systems”), which may include blocks stacked in a 3D configuration for greater density. Multi-chip system designs are capable of supporting large-scale AI/ML deployment, and they can improve silicon yields, thereby reducing waste during chip fabrication.

When it comes to commercial use cases for multi-die systems, Patrick Moorhead, founder, CEO and chief analyst of global technology consulting firm Moor Insights & Strategy, notes that these custom designs could soon be a key differentiator. for businesses looking to stand out among competitors. “As more and more people consider more custom silicon as a way to differentiate what they bring to the table, that’s what business people should be looking for,” he says. “The chips allow smaller companies with smaller wallets to use semiconductors for a unique competitive advantage.”

Gerry Talbot, corporate fellow at semiconductor company AMD, sums up the chips’ business value to the technology’s wide range of use cases. “I don’t think (business leaders) will be as excited about the technology itself,” he says, “as much as applying and building a unique user experience that can help sell their product”.

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This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not authored by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.


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