Glass substrates may be the next big thing in chips; Apple looking | Technology

Intel Glass Substrates.jpg

A new supply-chain report suggests that Apple is seeking to be an early player in what some believe will be the next big thing in chip development: printed circuit boards (PCBs) made from glass substrates.

While that might not sound exciting, it offers the prospect of an entirely new way of mounting and packaging chips, which could offer much better thermal performance, allowing processors to run at maximum power for longer periods …

Glass substrates can boost chip performance

Current PCBs are typically made from a mix of fibreglass and resin beneath the copper and solder layers.

The material is sensitive to heat, which means that chip temperatures have to be carefully controlled through thermal throttling: reducing the performance of the chip when it gets too hot. This means chips can only sustain their maximum performance for limited periods, before falling back to slower speeds to keep temperatures down.

Switching to glass would substantially increase the temperatures the board can be subjected to, which in turn means that chips can run hotter, and therefore maintain peak performance for longer.

Glass substrates are also ultra-flat, allowing for more precise engraving, which allows components to be placed closer together, increasing the density of circuits within any given size.

Intel currently holds the lead in this field, but other companies are working hard to catch up.

Apple in discussion with suppliers

Digitimes reports that Samsung is now working on this technology, and that Apple is in discussion with several unnamed suppliers – with Samsung certain to be among them. “Subsidiaries of the Samsung Group will…”

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