Intel researchers have developed a new technology that the company hopes will let chips reach speeds of 20GHz in the second half of this decade, the company announced today.
The technological advance is not in the manufacturing of the chip itself, but in its "packaging," a component that lies between the silicon of the chip and the circuit board and facilitates communication between them. Intel expects to begin using the technology, called "Bumpless Build-Up Layer" (BBUL) for commercial products in the next five to six years, the company said.
With current manufacturing, the processor die is built separately from the package and later bonded to it. With BBUL technology, the package is built around the silicon, eliminating the need for solder, which impairs the efficiency of a chip. Thus BBUL increases the speed at which the silicon can communicate with the rest of the components on the board, Intel said.
Not only is BBUL thinner and lighter than existing packaging, it can also support multiple processors in the same package, so server processors could have two silicon cores built onto one package, Intel said. This can offer higher speed than would chips on separate packaging.
There are three steps to chip performance, according to Intel - transistors, lithography and packaging. Last June, Intel demonstrated transistors running at 1.5 Terahertz, and the company has also been developing Extreme Ultra-Violet lithography, which would enable "printing" as many as one billion transistors onto a chip. The development of BBUL is the third piece of the puzzle, the company said.