At Intel’s Architecture Day 2018, the company shared its development plans for future processors. Said plans revolve around what they have called “stackable chiplets.”

In fact, Intel’s big 2019 goal is building “Foveros 3D stacking,” industry-made implementation of processing components stacked within a chip.

What are stackable chiplets?

Stacked memory already exist. Also known as High Bandwith Memory (HBM), it serves as a high-performance RAM for Hynix, Samsung, and AMD processors. AMD Fiji GPUs are the first components using said architecture.

Now, Intel is planning to do something similar with future processors. Each stacked chiplet would handle the heavy processing tasks of the machine, like AI handling, and power regulation.

Each separate chiplet managing different processes could be stacked atop one another. It would give greater computational flexibility, power, and density.

However, Intel has one great challenge ahead: building full chips at the small 10nm scale.

New 10nm chiplets

Intel has never built a chip so small. Previously, their 10nm roadmaps have consistently failed, and there’s a reason.

Tech companies face immeasurable engineering challenges on placing high tech on smaller chips. Previous reports have even suggested Intel has canceled the 10nm plans altogether.

Either way, the old chipmaker has said they are “making good progress on 10nm.” Intel suggests they are implementing a process they call “2D stacking.” 2D stacking consists of separating various processing components into smaller chiplets, each of which is then manufactured with a different production node.

It means Intel could deliver 10nm CPUs which could nonetheless have several 14nm and 22nm chip modules.

Intel CPU
Intel CPU. Source: PCR.

Sunny Cove processors

The upcoming 9th-gen Intel processors. The tech giant has created a new architecture for their upcoming CPUs called Sunny Cove.

Sunny Cove will launch late 2019 with Core and Xeon processor models. Intel is already making promises that it will improve latency, and allow more task to be executed in parallel.

Sunny Cove will ship is Gen11 integrated graphics as part of their 2019 “10nm-based” CPUs.

A question arises, then:  will Forevos 3D stacking be a Sunny Cove chip generation? Or will it be separate?

Forevos 3D chiplets could go to laptops, desktops, phones, and tablets. Intel has already said the 10nm chips would cover everything “from mobile devices to the data center.”

Furthermore, Intel will launch the chiplets by the second half of 2019. However, given Intel’s failure with smartphone chips, it’s safe to assume new processors will go to desktop and laptops.

The man behind the changes

It’s apparent from the Architecture Day’s announcements that Intel is rethinking their future. The company plans involve a major reorganization of its chip design, philosophy, a strategy.

It’s expected of such an important company aiming to remain at the top of the market. In fact, they even hired a new chief architect, Raja Koduri, an ex-top player for AMD. He was AMD’s graphics chief.

At AMD, Koduri was a senior figure, and he has taken a similar role in steering’s Intel path.

Koduri is also Intel’s leader in the graphic’s department, a position Intel has never filled. Needless to say, Koduri will bring a new era for Intel’s underwhelming integrated graphics cards.

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