China is accelerating its semiconductor self-sufficiency efforts
As China is accelerating its semiconductor self-sufficiency efforts, the newly formed China Chiplet League this week introduced its homegrown Chiplet Interconnect Interface Standard, according to a DigiTimes report citing the Chinese website Cailianshe. The new interface is meant to enable custom multi-chiplet designs developed by China-based companies and made in the People’s Republic.
China’s original Chiplet Interconnect Interface Standard, also known as the ACC
China’s original Chiplet Interconnect Interface Standard, also known as the ACC 1.0 (Advanced Cost-driven Chiplet Interface 1.0), is being developed by a group of companies specializing in chip design, IP as well as packaging, testing and assembly services. The China Chiplet League seems to be coordinated by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Core Technology, though its exact role is not particularly clear. The ultimate goal of the China Chiplet League is to ensure that ACC 1.0 will be a cost effective and feasible solution for the country’s chip designers.
Developing standards for chiplets is particularly important these days
Developing standards for chiplets is particularly important these days, as it is getting harder and more expensive for chipmakers to tangibly increase transistor density every 18 months. The industry is slowly moving to multi-chiplet designs as it enables developers to through in as many transistors as they need to achieve their performance goals without making their designs excessively expensive (as large monolithic chips made on production nodes like 5 nm and below are prohibitively expensive).
One of the advantages of multi-chiplet designs is that they can be designed
One of the advantages of multi-chiplet designs is that they can be designed by various companies and produced by different foundries at different nodes. To development the chiplet ecosystem ensure that chiplets from different vendors are compatible with each other, leading chip designers, producers and packaging specialists like AMD, ASE, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, Qualcomm and TSMC have formed the Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) alliance.
The Chinese semiconductor industry also has to adopt chiplet designs
The Chinese semiconductor industry also has to adopt chiplet designs, mostly because foundries like Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and Hua Hong can produce chips only using trailing nodes and therefore their clients cannot be competitive with companies that use TSMC’s leading-edge nodes as far as monolithic designs are concerned. But with multi-chiplet designs, they have much better chances.
Meanwhile, it does not make a lot of sense for Chinese companies to adopt UCIe since the U.S. government may restrict exports of advanced chiplets to People’s Republic. Furthermore, chiplets made on 5nm-class and more sophisticated nodes may be physically and electrically incompatible with chiplets produced at a 28nm fabrication process.