According to reliable sources, Intel Corp. is looking towards an unexpected material to address the growing demands of artificial intelligence (AI) workloads in computers – glass. As processors become larger and more complex, their ability to communicate with the rest of the computer becomes a bottleneck. Glass-based substrates, which sit between the chip and connecting components, are seen as a solution to this challenge.
For Intel, a company that has been a pioneer in chips but is now playing catch-up with Nvidia Corp., this new approach presents an opportunity to showcase its innovation in the AI-driven world and attract new customers in the process. The company has significantly increased its research and development (R&D) spending, surpassing that of its competitors.
Interestingly, Intel’s focus on glass comes from its packaging research and production facilities – an often overlooked part of its technology pipeline. By raising the profile of this business segment, Intel aims to attract customers to its manufacturing operations as part of a broader effort.
Since its inception in the late 1960s, Intel’s factories have primarily focused on producing their own designs. However, they are now bolstering their foundry operations – which manufacture semiconductors and other technologies for external clients – marking one of the most significant restructurings in the company’s history.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has been emphasizing Intel’s capabilities in packaging technology surrounding chips. He claims that progress has been made in attracting customers in this area, even if those buyers bring chips manufactured elsewhere. The packaging business serves as a gateway for customers to utilize Intel for various chip manufacturing needs; however, it is also viewed as a risky bet due to substantial investments required.
Gelsinger aims to restore Intel’s position as an industry agenda-setter within the $580 billion chip industry. With their glass packaging initiative, Intel strives to be at the forefront of commercializing technology that has long been under academic research. They predict that existing techniques will lose momentum in the coming years, necessitating the development of new solutions.
Traditionally, the substrate that protects a chip’s billions of transistors and facilitates data and power transmission has been made from a mix of fiberglass and epoxy. While this material is cost-effective and an industry standard, it exhibits limitations as chips become more advanced. The packaging layer struggles to handle the demands of artificial intelligence software, requiring improvements.
According to Intel, glass presents a solution to these challenges. Unlike traditional substrates, glass does not deform under pressure, allowing for finer cutting paths for data transmission. Furthermore, its chemical properties align with silicon, ensuring consistent expansion and contraction rates at high temperatures.
However, there are obstacles to overcome before widespread adoption of this approach. Intel needs to secure a cheaper supply of glass materials while researchers work on refining handling techniques to mitigate glass’s propensity for breakage.
To support their efforts in packaging techniques and other improvements, Intel has approximately 4,200 employees dedicated to these endeavors at their site in Chandler, Arizona.
The final word, Intel sees great potential in utilizing glass as a crucial material in powering AI-driven systems. By addressing the limitations posed by current packaging technologies through innovative approaches like glass substrates, Intel aims to position itself as a leader in the evolving chip industry landscape.
Source: According to reliable sources