Semiconductor Engineering: Chiplet Momentum Builds, Despite Tradeoffs

by Brian Bailey, On May 13, 2019

Pre-characterized tiles can move Moore’s Lay forward, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

Attempts have been made in the past, but success has been limited. “Around 2010, one of the first practical efforts to create a multi-chip system was an integration between application processors and digital baseband modems,” says Kurt Shuler, vice president of marketing for Arteris. “Companies that were getting rid of their digital baseband units wanted to have an interface to be able to connect the baseband through the application processor chip and share the DRAM. It was an all-digital interface, sharing the pins that already existed for the digital baseband to connect to the application processor so it could connect directly to the DRAM. Later, they used the MIPI low latency interface (LLI). This added MIPI MPHY plus a controller. One of the big problems with these low-level interfaces is that these two chips still have to be designed in context with each other.”

In addition, there are non-technical issues that also need to be resolved. When someone buys IP, there are responsibilities that have been figured out between supplier and user. “We need to work out some of the mechanics and also a legal framework,” says Arteris’ Kurt Shuler. “When you deal with die from two different customers, and someone else is going to be responsible for putting them together in a package, who is responsible when a die gets broken? Who pays?”

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