Intel to Reinvent Data Centers with Glass Substrates

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You’ll have to excuse us if our ears prick up like a Doberman who’s attention has been seized when we hear any discussion of advances in data center technology. Such is as it is when you’re a Canadian web hosting service provider, as we know that without those advances of our business wouldn’t be relied up on to the extent it is by people who have a website at work for their business, venture, or any of a million different personal interests that warrant be put on display online.

The possibilities are endless. It seems as if we’re nowhere near the ceiling when it comes to digital advances in data storage technology, but with data access technology more specifically and being an increasingly integral part of that equation. Thanks goodness of engineers is a way of thinking we can definitely get onboard with, and we have covered nearly all of the most pertinent topics here as they relate to data center technology, from the more complex with colocation to the simpler with using seawater to cool data centers.

Which leads us to the latest advancement that we’re going to talk about with our entry here this week, and we’ll give a quick nod of approval in saying that we’re not at all surprised that it comes to us courtesy of the pioneering folks at Intel. And if you’re not entirely sure what a glass substrate is, not to worry as we had to read through this stuff ourselves to have even a formative understanding of it.

Replacement Strategy

Intel’s annual Innovation event got underway last week, and they got going full tilt with going into detail about their deploying glass substrates in new data center products and how that’s quite the departure from how up until now it has primarily been organic materials used. That’s in large part because nothing of any other nature showed promise in improving performance. Until now that is.

But before we get into the meat of all this news, we should say that Intel made it quite clear that the implementation of this technology is not just around the corner by any means. It is still many years away from becoming reality, so a lot can and will change before it arrives. We’re still as keen as can be about learning more details about how using glass instead of organic material for a chip’s substrate is possible.

What was learned at the event was that the primary advantage gained from glass being a more stable material than what data center component makers are currently using is that it will allow these manufacturers to scale their chiplet designs much higher than would be possible otherwise. All of which works out to a much higher quantity of silicon tiles on a package, and that meets a real need with the ability to pack more chips onto a glass substrate being conducive to the creation of data center and AI chips that require advanced packaging.

Not Just Any Glass

Intel wasn’t forthcoming about what kind of glass will be a part of the substrates and how that type of glass works specifically to improve the function and capacity of data centers in the big picture. But what can be assumed based on everything that’s come to forefront about this over the last week is that using glass will bring gains in both performance and density. With the new proprietary designs chip designers should possess a lot more flexibility when creating complex chips in the future.

We’ve also learned that the stability of glass allows for considerable increase in routing and signaling wires, and to the tune of 10 times what would be possible without the glass substrates incorporated into the materials. What this does is it lets wires be smaller and located more closely together, which will let Intel reduce the number of metal layers involved.

With more volume of signals and better signals greater numbers of chiplets can be stacked onto the package, and the glass’s thermal stability will allow more power to be channeled into the chip instead of being potentially lost in the interconnects.

This type of glass substrate is also extremely flat compared with current organic substrate materials, and when viewed one next to the other you’d see how the substrates of-choice here are a homogenous slab rather than a composite made up of different materials. This type of design makes the chiplet less likely to warp or shrink over time.

Added benefits on top of those performance ones include more stability through thermal cycles and much more in the way of predictability with the way chips may be increasingly interconnected on a package. There’s a lot to digest there, but when you do you can see how this is in line with being a part of new and extra-large data centers and AI chips working within them.

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