Better bandwidth on chips

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Interesting piece at c|net’s

The technology, called through-silicon vias, or TSV, involves connecting different components–processors and memory, for example–or different cores inside of two respective chips through thousands of tiny wires that will carry data back and forth. Now, chips mostly transfer data over channels called buses, which can get overwhelmed, embodied in wires. With TSV, far more data can be transferred per second in a less energy-intensive manner.

TSV will reduce power consumption in silicon germanium chips, a favorite of IBM’s, by around 40 percent. In these chips, microscopic holes will be drilled into the chip and filled with tungsten to create the TSVs.

“Wire bonds have pretty high levels of noise, which can limit the capability of some of the transistors,” said Lisa Su, vice president for IBM’s Semiconductor Research and Development Center.

In three to five years, TSV could also be used to join memory directly to its power processors, obviating the need for another component called a memory controller. TSV in this scenario, could improve performance by 10 percent and reduce power consumption by 20 percent. IBM also hopes to bring it to the chips in its BlueGene supercomputers.

Intel is also working on the technology, and actually used it to join the cores to the memory in its recent 80-core prototype (which we covered quite a bit, including here).