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Intel Shows Off Work on Next-Gen Glass Core Substrates, Plans Deployment Later in Decade

Although Intel’s annual Innovation event doesn’t kick off until tomorrow, the company is already publishing some announcements ahead of the show – and it’s not the trivial stuff, either. This morning the company is showing off their initial work on developing a glass core substrate and associated packaging process for their chips. As a result of their progress with research and development on the class cores, Intel is now planning on introducing glass core substrates to its products in the second half of this decade, allowing them to package chips in more complex, and ultimately higher-performing configurations.

There’s a lot to unpack from Intel’s relatively short announcement, but at a high level, glass core substrates have been under research for over a decade as a replacement for organic substrates, which are widely used in current-generation processors. Essentially the medium that typical silicon dies sit on, substrates play an important part in chip packaging. First and foremost, they provide the structural stability for a chip (silicon dies are quite fragile and flimsy), and they are also the means through which signals from silicon dies are carried, either to other on-package dies (i.e. chiplets), or to the large number of relatively sizable pins/pads on the back side of a chip. And, as chip sizes have increased over the years – and the number of pins/signals required by high-end chips has, as well – so has the need for newer and better materials to use as a substrate, which is what’s been driving Intel’s latest accomplishment.

Ultimately, what Intel is aiming to do with glass core substrates is to improve upon what can be done with existing organic substrates, allowing for larger chips with more signals to be routed through the substrate more cleanly. And while this will potentially have benefits for all chips over a long enough time, the immediate focus is on high-end, multi-chiplet processors, where glass core substrates will offer better mechanical stability, better signal integrity, and the ability to more easily route a larger number of signals through a non-silicon medium. In short, Intel considers it one of the keys to making high-performance processors in the next decade.

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