Intel's glass substrate promises 1T transistors by 2030

Intel is trying to keep up with the exploding demand for new computing horsepower.
Sejal Sharma
Hamid Azimi, corporate vice-president at Intel, holding the glass substrate test chip
Hamid Azimi, corporate vice-president at Intel, holding the glass substrate test chip


In what is being seen as a shift from silicon, Intel announced Monday their progress in commercializing glass substrates toward the end of the decade. The company said that glass substrates are an improvement in design, allowing more transistors to be connected in a package and will help overcome the limitations of organic materials.

Intel says its new glass substrate will help the company create more powerful processors with better production yields.

As the world advances to incorporate developments in data-intensive workloads in artificial intelligence, glass substrates, in comparison to organic substrates, could offer mechanical stability and higher interconnect density to create high-performing chip packages.

A trillion transistors on a chip by 2030

Stephen Shankland, a reporter at CNET, said that he was one of just two journalists to get the first look at how Intel’s glass substrate works. He said, “The A17 Pro processor in Apple's iPhone 15 Pro has 19 billion transistors. Intel's Ponte Vecchio supercomputing processor has more than 100 billion. By the end of the decade, Intel expects processors with -- if you can imagine it -- a trillion transistors.” 

“Glass substrates can tolerate higher temperatures, offer 50% less pattern distortion, and have ultra-low flatness for improved depth of focus for lithography, and have the dimensional stability needed for extremely tight layer-to-layer interconnect overlay,” said Intel in a press release

“As a result of these distinctive properties, a 10x increase in interconnect density is possible on glass substrates. Further, improved mechanical properties of glass enable ultra-large form-factor packages with very high assembly yields,” said the company.

Better than silicon packaging

Intel further stated that by the end of 2030, the semiconductor industry will likely reach its limits on being able to scale transistors on a silicon package using organic materials. These silicon packages use more power and include limitations like shrinkage and warping. 

“Scaling is crucial to the progress and evolution of the semiconductor industry, and glass substrates are a viable and essential next step for the next generation of semiconductors,” said the press release.

“After a decade of research, Intel has achieved industry-leading glass substrates for advanced packaging. We look forward to delivering these cutting-edge technologies that will benefit our key players and foundry customers for decades to come,” said Babak Sabi, Intel's senior vice president and general manager of Assembly and Test Development.

Intel believes glass substrates can enable the continued scaling of transistors in a package and advance Moore’s Law.

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