Gelsinger Reiterates Ambitious Package Power Goal

Article By : Ilene Wolff

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger predicts that package power will experience a tenfold uptick by 2030 thanks to RibbonFET, PowerVia, and high-NA EUV.

How do you ensure the market knows you have lofty goals? Say it in a keynote address at Hot Chips—even if you’ve said it before.

In a speech at that online conference that broke no new ground, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger predicted that package power will experience a tenfold uptick by 2030.

“Today, there are about 100 billion transistors on a package, and we see our way clear to getting to a trillion transistors by the end of the decade,” he said, taking the opportunity to pitch some of Intel’s new tech to help achieve the lofty goal.

Making this goal achievable are three innovations, he said: RibbonFET, PowerVia, and high-numerical aperture (NA) extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

RibbonFET is the company’s gate-all-around transistor structure that includes gate contacts to surrounding semiconductor channels, and from all sides, to make continued scaling possible. PowerVia is a new backside power-delivery architecture. And high-NA EUV is the next generation of chipmaking lithography.

Intel had previously announced plans to buy the world’s first 0.55 high-NA EUV scanner from Dutch company Advanced Semiconductor Materials Lithography (ASML).

“With EUV and high-NA lithography, it looks like we’ve got a good path through the end of the decade,” Gelsinger said. “And … 2.5D and 3D packaging [methodologies for including multiple integrated circuits inside the same package] … are enabling us to have sort of the sweet spot of die size being composed with essentially low-end process technology being applied to packaging—so 2.5D and 3D composition. And those four taken together—RibbonFETs, high-NA next generation of EUV, 2.5D and 3D packaging, and power delivery—we’re on a path that we believe [leads us to] a trillion transistors by the end of the decade.”

Pat Gelsinger at Intel Investor Day
Pat Gelsinger (Source: Intel)

Gelsinger delivered his upbeat remarks amid a period with highs and lows for his company. While Intel has plans to purchase ASML’s first high-NA EUV lithography machine in the next year or so, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, its second-quarter 2022 revenues are down by double-digit percentages compared with last year’s.

Meanwhile, the company plans to invest $20 billion to build two new chip fabs in Ohio, the start of what Gelsinger called the “Silicon Heartland.”

In Washington, D.C., Gelsinger was on hand in August when President Joe Biden signed off on the $50 billion CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 to support domestic economic development in high-tech industries.

“We just had the most important piece of industrial policy legislation, I believe, since World War II, that enables the full support of the U.S. government behind the semiconductor industry, a huge piece of legislation that was passed with the CHIPS and Science Act, the largest-ever investment in semiconductor manufacturing, the establishment of the National Semiconductor Technology Center, the biggest piece of legislation for science funding over decades,” he said.

The “science funding” Gelsinger referred to is earmarked National Science Foundation funding to establish a technology, innovation, and partnerships directorate at the NSF to focus on fields like semiconductors and advanced computing, advanced communications technology, advanced energy technologies, quantum information technologies, and biotechnology, according to a White House fact sheet.

“What a seminal moment for the semiconductor industry and for the United States and its investments, commitments, and the priority that it has for the semiconductor industry,” Gelsinger said. “And clearly, this idea of the world running on semiconductors is so critical. And that’s been seen through the Covid crisis and the shortages that we’ve seen, and that was a key factor in bringing this critical legislation across the line.

“But this idea of the role of semiconductors and, you know, I like to call it the era of the superpowers, not nation-states but technology superpowers.”

He enumerated the superpowers as “compute, connectivity, infrastructure, and AI,” saying each is powerful by itself. Combined, though, they amplify and reinforce one another to create an exponential impact.

Then, like a Ph.D. electrical engineering candidate defending his thesis, Gelsinger laid out his evidence:

  • Compute: “Literally everything is becoming a computer. We’re seeing it in our thermostats and our lightbulbs, and not just on our desktops. Everything is now being filled by a computer. And since the 4004 [one of the first microprocessors produced more than 50 years ago] began this idea of a stored program, computing capability, everything is becoming compute-capable.”
  • Conductivity: “Connecting, sharing, being able to bring together every aspect of the infrastructure and the conductivity of not only people but things today. About 60% of humanity is connected. You know, by 2030, 90% of humanity will be connected. And now it’s not just people; it’s things being connected as well.”
  • Infrastructure: “With the advent of cloud, you now have this ability to scale infrastructure: Literally, with your credit card, you can buy a supercomputer overnight. This ability to scale is now being combined with edge that enables infrastructure with low latency and bandwidth. And that combination of scale, and reach of edge, literally we have unlimited access to high-performance, scale infrastructure capabilities.”
  • AI: “You have the ability to make sense of this vast amount of data to be able to create actionable insights.”

Gelsinger added, “But we also see that this idea of a wafer foundry era is giving way to what I like to call the systems foundry. And if you think about it, you know, the rack is becoming a system. And the system is becoming an advanced package of multiple die and chiplets. You know, literally the system is becoming the advanced packaging technology of the future.

“So I say, ‘Hey, Hot Chips, in the future, it’s going to be a lot hotter, because we’re going to have a lot more cool things that we’re talking about,’” he said.


This article was originally published on EE Times.


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