Understanding Chiplets, SoC, and SiP: Why TSMC, Intel, Samsung Invest?

2023-08-31 Semiconductors editor

Semiconductor process technology is nearing the boundaries of known physics. In order to continually enhance processor performance, the integration of small chips (chiplets) and heterogeneous Integration has become a prevailing trend. It is also regarded as a primary solution for extending Moore’s Law. Major industry players such as TSMC, Intel, Samsung, and others are vigorously developing these related technologies.

What are SoC, SiP, and Chiplet?

To understand Chiplet technology, we must first clarify two commonly used terms: SoC and SiP. SoC (System on Chip) involves redesigning multiple different chips to utilize the same manufacturing process and integrating them onto a single chip. On the other hand, SiP (System in Package) connects multiple chips with different manufacturing processes using heterogeneous integration techniques and integrates them within a single packaging form.

Chiplet technology employs advanced packaging techniques to create a SiP composed of multiple small chips. It integrates small chips with different functions onto a single substrate through advanced packaging techniques. While Chiplets and SiPs may seem similar, Chiplets are essentially chips themselves, whereas SiP refers to the packaging form. They have differences in functionality and purpose.

Chiplets: Today’s Semiconductor Development Trend

The design concept of Chiplet technology offers several advantages over SoC, notably in significantly improving chip manufacturing yield. As chip sizes increase to enhance performance, chip yield decreases due to the larger surface area. Chiplet technology can integrate various smaller chips with relatively high manufacturing yields, thus enhancing chip performance and yield.

Furthermore, Chiplet technology contributes to reduced design complexity and costs. Through heterogeneous integration, Chiplets can combine various types of small chips, reducing integration challenges in the initial design phase and facilitating design and testing. Additionally, since different Chiplets can be independently optimized, the final integrated product often achieves better overall performance.

Chiplets have the potential to lower wafer manufacturing costs. Apart from CPUs and GPUs, other units within chips can perform well without relying on advanced processes. Chiplets enable different functional small chips to use the most suitable manufacturing process, contributing to cost reduction.

With the evolution of semiconductor processes, chip design has become more challenging and complex, leading to rising design costs. In this context, Chiplet technology, which simplifies design and manufacturing processes, effectively enhances chip performance, and extends Moore’s Law, holds significant promise.

Applications and Development of Chiplets

In recent years, global semiconductor giants like AMD, TSMC, Intel, NVIDIA, and others have recognized the market potential in this field, intensively investing in Chiplet technology. For example, AMD’s recent products have benefited from the ‘SiP + Chiplet’ manufacturing approach. Moreover, Apple’s M1 Ultra chip achieved high performance through a customed UltraFusion packaging architecture. In academia, institutions like the University of California, Georgia Tech, and European research organizations have begun researching interconnect interfaces, packaging, and applications related to Chiplet technology.

In conclusion, due to Chiplet technology’s ability to lower design costs, reduce development time, enhance design flexibility and yield, while expanding chip functionality, it is an indispensable solution in the ongoing development of high-performance chips.

This article is from TechNews, a collaborative media partner of TrendForce.