Inside Intel’s Plan to Take On Nvidia

Intel Turns to Glass Based Substrates to Leverage AI Boom

Intel has lagged as the likes of Nvidia shine amid the artificial intelligence boom. However, the chip pioneer might have found a way to play catch-up as the focus remains on developing chips to power the AI revolution. The company has a chance to show its research and development capabilities by betting on glass-based substrates.

Glass Based Substrates

Glass-based substrates are the materials that sit between chips and connect components in motherboards. They are seen as the answer to enhance connections between chips and other motherboard components as processors become larger and more complex. There have been concerns that as processors become larger in the race to handle AI workloads; they will be unable to communicate with the rest of the computer.

The tiny metal paths that carry data and power between billions of transistors in a chip pass through a fiberglass and epoxy substrate. While the material has been the industry standard for over 50 years, it’s starting to show its limitations, as chips that power the AI revolution come with tens of billions of transistors.

Increasing the number of holes to accommodate the billions of transistors is already causing warping, which leads to loss of contact in some areas. The epoxy and fiberglass mixture also have limitations on the pathways for power and data. The limitations present tremendous opportunities that Intel intends to unlock with its new glass base substrates.

The glass push is part of Intel’s investment in R&D as it tries to innovate for an artificial intelligence world and win customers. It comes from its research and production facilities as Intel continues to look for ways to raise its business profile as it seeks to attract customers for its manufacturing operations.

Intel Long Term Plan

The push for glass-based substrates comes as Intel continues diversifying its core business as it tries to remain competitive in the highly competitive industry. The company used its factories for the longest time to produce and develop its designs. In the most recent past, it’s bundling up its foundry operations to develop semiconductors and other technology for other customers.

In the most recent past, the company’s chief executive officer has talked about packaging capabilities seen as one of the areas for unlocking value. The company has been signing clients looking for ways to package their chips even if they were made elsewhere.

The packaging business offers an exciting and lucrative opportunity for Intel to lure customers who may end up using its broader swath of chip-making capabilities, having invested billions of dollars in its foundry business. The company has already started spending billions of dollars on developing new plants worldwide as it looks to enhance the chip production process.

Intel has also ramped up its research and development spending to over $18 billion as it looks to accrue significant market share in the $580 billion chip industry. The glass packaging initiative could allow the company to commercialize the technology before other companies jump into it. The company is especially banking on existing techniques for packaging from running out of steam in the second half of the decade, which should present a tremendous opportunity for its glass-based substrate technology.

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