The world’s largest chipmakers are coming together to create the UCIe system for fusing microchips together in future semiconductor designs.
Almost all of the major names in processor technology are collaborating in this effort such as Intel, Samsung, TSMC, Qualcomm, Meta, Google, Microsoft, AMD and Arm.
As the name implies, UCIe aims to take the same PCIe-wide ecosystem model that’s been in use for years, and then extend it to smaller, more specialized chips that perform only a few specific functions.
UCIe aims to create a standard for linking microchips together, making it easier for companies to match different microchip components when building a system via a SoC.
The idea is for tech companies to be able to incorporate different chip components into their designs. This is similar to how you can add any PCIe accessory compatible with your computer (regardless of the individual companies that made each part).
There are generally two ways to create a SoC. The more traditional monolithic integrated wafer method combines all semiconductor parts and components into one silicon-printed piece.
Microchips take a different approach. Instead of making one big chip with all the components on it, microchips break things down into smaller components that are then combined into a larger processor.
There are some benefits to the microchip system. And microchips can result in less waste. For example, if the core does not work, one of the eight core microchips can be discarded. Instead of losing a complete monolithic chip of 16 cores.
There are also benefits to chip design, allowing companies to shrink critical components (such as CPU cores) into smaller new processing nodes without having to scale down the system across the entire chip to match.
In addition, the system allows companies to make chips larger than they can in a single, coherent design. This is done by combining microchips together.
UCIe unifies the microchip system interface
AMD’s recent Ryzen Zen 2 and Zen 3 chips are some of the most prominent examples of recent chip designs. Each Zen 3 processor, for example, is made from eight-core 7nm microchips of TSMC’s CPU and GPU components combined with an I/O chip built on older contracts from GlobalFoundries.
The UCIe project is still in its infancy. The standardization process is currently focused on establishing rules for linking groups of microchips together in larger packages.
But there are plans to create a UCIe industry organization that will help define UCIe’s next generation technology. Including microchip form, management, improved security and other core protocols in the future.
This means that an integrated ecosystem of microchips can be built that will allow companies to build a customized SoC by purchasing different components to suit the need. This method is similar to the way the user builds a gaming computer with different hardware from several companies.