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AMD says chiplet design can cut costs by more than half

Chiplet design is at its most extreme in AMD's 64-core EPYC CPUs (Image source: Wired)
Chiplet design is at its most extreme in AMD's 64-core EPYC CPUs (Image source: Wired)
AMD has consistently beaten Intel in cost-per-core, but did AMD really need to pursue a chiplet design to make Zen 2 so affordable? New slides from a recent talk at ISSCC show exactly how much the company saved with this approach, and the results are very impressive.
Jonathan Hayhurst,

Since the launch of its Zen architecture, AMD has consistently undercut Intel from a dollars-per-core perspective. AMD's value oriented approach can be attributed to many factors, but none of them are more relevant than the novel "chiplet" design AMD uses in manufacturing their latest Zen 2 chips. The idea is to take several smaller dies manufactured on different processes, and put them together on one package to improve yields and thereby reduce costs. But reduce them by how much?  Well by more than half in some cases.

In a recent talk at ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuits Conference), AMD revealed that on TSMC's 7nm process the cost to manufacture a 16-core monolithic die (e.g. the Ryzen 9 3950X) is more than double that of a multi-die CPU. As one can imagine, the lower the core counts, the lower the savings, but even on the low end of what AMD presented, an 8-core CPU split between a 7nm CPU die and a 14nm I/O die can reduce the cost by approximately 25%.

Following AMD's lead, Intel will be taking chiplets in a new direction with their stacked Foveros design announced back in 2018. While Zen 2 has not seen a release in laptops yet, the 4000 series is confirmed to used the latest architecture, and information is coming more and more frequently. Notably, these laptop CPUs do not use the chiplet design, so it will be interesting to see how these monolithic variants fair again their chiplet counterparts.

A 3950x might have cost well over US$1,000 without chiplets (Image source: ISSCC)
A 3950x might have cost well over US$1,000 without chiplets (Image source: ISSCC)
Would a 64-core monolithic die even be possible? Probably not says AMD (Image Source: ISSCC)
Would a 64-core monolithic die even be possible? Probably not says AMD (Image Source: ISSCC)

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 02 > AMD says chiplet design can cut costs by more than half
Jonathan Hayhurst, 2020-02-28 (Update: 2020-02-29)
Jonathan Hayhurst
My love of math and games very quickly turned me into an avid follower of technology. A PC hardware enthusiasts first and foremost, my interests range from tablets to audiophile sound systems. I'm as excited by Steam sales as I am by the latest high end GPU releases. Outside of tech, I spend my time in finance and enjoying music you probably wouldn't like. ;-)