Several major chipmakers today announcement they come together to create an industry standard for chip technology, an important component of many modern processors.
Companies participating in the initiative include ASE Inc., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Arm Ltd., Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and TSMC Ltd. They are joined by Microsoft Corp., the parent company of Facebook. Meta Platforms Inc. and the cloud business of Google LLC.
The companies’ goal is to develop an industry standard for building processors using chip technology. A chiplet is an integrated circuit optimized for a specific task, such as running artificial intelligence models. Multiple such integrated circuits can be linked together to form a single processor.
Many of the most advanced processors on the market today are made using chiplet technology. AMD’s flagship Ryzen central processing units, for example, each include multiple chiplets. Intel, on the other hand, uses the technology as the basis of Ponte Vecchioa data center chip with 100 billion transistors optimized to run AI workloads.
A collection of chips cannot simply be soldered together to form a working processor. Rather, they must be linked together in a way that allows data to travel between individual chips for processing. That’s the requirement Intel and AMD aim to meet using the new industry standard they’re developing with other big tech companies.
The industry standard that companies are developing is known as UCIe. It aims to provide a set of common technical best practices for the development of technologies to link chips into a single processor. This technology is commonly referred to as interconnect.
Having a common set of best practices simplifies product development for chipmakers by allowing them to build on technical lessons gleaned from other market players. The result is that chip makers can bring new products to market faster.
There is also another potentially equally important benefit for the industry. In theory, future chiplets that will be compatible with the newly announced UCIe standard could be linked to form a single processor even if they are made by different companies. This could create opportunities to develop new types of processors that combine technologies from several different chipmakers.
The recently announced UCIe chip standard specifies a set of requirements that must be met when bonding chips in a processor. Requirements relate to technical details such as how electrical signals travel between different parts of a processor. The standard also covers other areas, such as ways chipmakers can test their silicon to ensure it’s compatible with UCIe.
“Integrating multiple chips into one package to deliver innovative products across all market segments is the future of the semiconductor industry and a pillar of Intel’s IDM 2.0 strategy,” said Sandra Rivera. , Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Data Center & AI business.
UCIe allows chipmakers to create the hardware mechanism, or interconnect, that connects chips in a processor from multiple materials. According to AnandTech, chipmakers can use both silicon-based technologies and other approaches. UCIe should facilitate the creation of interconnects capable of moving 1.3 terabits of data per second per millimeter between chips.
The standard also specifies the protocol, or set of procedures, that will be used to manage chip-to-chip data transfer. The basis of the protocol will be an existing technology called PCIe which is already widely used in data centers. Additionally, companies participating in the effort plan to develop software and tools to help chipmakers ensure their products comply with the standard.
“Microsoft joins industry organization UCIe to accelerate the pace of data center innovation and enable new breakthroughs in silicon design,” said Microsoft Engineer Emeritus Leendert van Doorn. “We look forward to combining the efforts of the organization with our own accomplishments to drive stepwise improvements in silicon architecture for the benefit of our customers.”